State prosecutors in The Gambia have reinstated economic crime, abuse of office, neglect of official duty and false information charges against the director of state broadcast network GRTS, according to Attorney General’s office.
Momodou Sabally was among a handful of journalists arrested in early November and held incommunicado since.
The reinstated charges against Mr. Sabally were dropped last year after a presidential pardon was given to him some days before judgment. State prosecutors told the court they were unwilling to pursue and file a formal notice of abandonment of the action after the presidential pardon.
Sabally was charged with the offenses after he was fired as President Yahya Jammeh’s Chief of Staff being the Secretary General, Head of Civil Service and Minister for Presidential Affairs.
Activists say since authorities want to persecute him, and have no other charges to “fabricate against him,” prosecutors reverted to reinstating charges they filed a Nolle Prosequi on.
The UN has asked for the release of Mr. Sabally and one other journalist detained with him, Bakary Fatty. Human Rights Watch said their arrest has a chilling effect on the media’s ability to fairly cover the election.
Sabally and Fatty were arrested a day after the state TV broadcasted images of the formalization of the nomination of an opposition presidential hopeful, who broke away from the ruling APRC party’s ranks. The move according to observers has set a precedent for others, especially a coalition of opposition groups to have access to state media.
Gambian authorities have been accused of tightly controlling the media to influence the outcome of polls and opposition leaders decried the heavy editing of their campaign rallies and since demanded unrestricted access.