The Gambia Press Union is calling for unconditional and immediate release of Alhagie Jobe, deputy editor of the pro-government Daily Observer newspaper, who has been detained since 7th February 2013.
“We are calling on the authorities to release him with immediate effect since he has been detain for more than the legal limit of 72 hours stipulated in the constitution of The Gambia,” president of the Union, Emil Touray, said.
“The Union is going to write to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), who are detaining Mr Jobe, to call on them to release him unconditionally since they are yet to charge him formally,” he added.
A security source has it that Mr Jobe is accused of using his position as deputy editor of the pro-government Daily Observer to run a visa and asylum fraud scheme.
He is said to be accused of writing letters on Daily Observer letterhead for Gambian asylum seekers abroad and those within the country applying for visas in return for huge sum of money.
However, a senior report of the paper said they cannot formally ascertain the cause of Mr Jobe’s arrest.
Another staff said: “We are all worried now, is more than three weeks and he is still not charge for committing any crime neither is he release.”
Under the custody of the NIA, Mr Jobe is said to be physically tortured throughout the period and forced to confess about the possible involvement of others, though this could not be independently verified by Gambia News Online.
His assistant, Assan Salla, the news editor of the same Daily Observer, was taken to the NIA headquarters on Monday, 11 February and released on Tuesday, 12 February, evening and asked him to report to their headquarters on a daily basis pending the outcome of the investigations.
The arrests came barely a month after the newspaper’s managing director, Pa Malick Faye, was sacked and he fled out of the country.