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Page last updated at 10:27 GMT, Friday, 4 September 2009 11:27 UK

Gambia frees jailed journalists

Incumbent President Yahya Jammeh
President Yahya Jammeh came to power in a coup in 1994

Six Gambian journalists who were jailed for criticising President Yahya Jammeh have been freed after he pardoned them.

A government statement confirmed the decree by Mr Jammeh but gave no reason for his decision.

The six were found guilty of defamation and sedition in August and sentenced to two years in jail.

They had questioned Mr Jammeh's declaration that the government was not responsible for the 2004 death of prominent journalist Deyda Hydara.

Mr Hydara, a vocal critic of strict media laws, was gunned down but nobody has been charged with his murder.

Since then the privately owned newspaper he edited, The Point, has incorporated into its masthead his photo, with the question: "Who killed Deyda Hydara?"

Another prominent journalist Chief Ebrima Manney went missing three years ago.

One of the journalists - Sarata Jabbi-Dibba, vice-president of the Gambia Press Union - confirmed to the AFP news agency that she had been released.

The agency reports that her five male colleagues left another prison on Thursday evening chanting "the truth will always prevail".

President Jammeh came to power through a coup in 1994 and has won three multi-party elections since then.

But amid claims of plots to oust him, dozens of people have been arrested and unlawfully detained, human rights groups say.



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