Gamtel blocks Gambian online newspaper over bankruptcy story


For the past two weeks, Gambians have been unable to access the Freedom Newspaper, an online Gambia newspaper based in United States of America, which has been very critical of the administration of President Yahya Jammeh.

The Freedom Newspaper, which can be accessed outside the boundaries of The Gambia, is accusing the country’s telecommunication company, Gamtel, of blocking the websites’ IP-address, following a story it carried about the company.

The newspaper on March 9, 2008 reported that due to mismanagement, the state-run Gamtel was at the brink of total bankruptcy.

This is not the first time that the Freedom Newspaper has been attacked by the Gambian authorities. On May 22, 2006, the Freedom Newspaper and All Gambian, another online newspaper were blocked for their criticism of the regime, following the hacking of the Freedom website. After this, the pro-government, Daily Observer newspaper published personal details including names and phones numbers of a number of Gambians who had allegedly been sending damaging information to the online newspaper.

Five journalists were arrested and detained for several days without trial before being released. Omar Bah, then news editor of the Daily Observer, escaped into exile, when he was declared wanted for his contributions to the website.

Under the regime of President Yahya Jammeh, the Gambian media has suffered great oppression. Critics of the authorities are systematically pressured into withholding their views, and journalists criticizing the government are often forced into exile. In addition, a reporter, Chief Ebrima Manneh, has been ‘missing’ since July 11, 2006, and on December 16, 2004, the Editor in Chief of The Point, Deyda Hydara, was gunned down by unknown assailants.