Broadcast journalist Alhagie Ceesay has safely arrived in the Senegalese capital, Dakar after a daring escape from his hospital bed, media sources confirmed. The Gambia’s #Government on Friday said Ceesay escaped from the intensive care unit of the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul where he was receiving treatment.
The journalist who had spent over 200 days in detention was admitted at the hospital on several occasions. He was reportedly tortured and suffering from a kidney disease that requires specialist attention. Ceesay was facing seditious charges after state prosecutors accused of false publication and sending a picture of President Yahya Jammeh with a gun pointed at him.
It remains a mystery how Ceesay, who was guarded round the clock by security personnel in the hospital successfully executed an escape plan. Eyewitnesses said he was too sick to attempt an escape. While in detention, the broadcast journalist had been tortured routinely. This was brought to the notice of the court but largely ignored.
“The fact that Alhagie was regularly tortured was public knowledge. His lawyer was aware and had tried to submit the fact in the court records but was overruled by Justice Simeon Abi who dispenses justice according to the whims of the Gambia dictator,” said Sidi Sanneh.
The security officer has not been charged or arrested yet but the escape of Ceesay has left many asking questions about the country’s national security. It is still up in the air if Ceesay's escape was a coordinated help effort.
Senegal is home to many dissidents
The Gambia has a very porous border with Senegal, which is often not secured and crossed without much trouble. Many who have fallen apart with the country’s autocratic regime have made it to Senegal including many journalists. The Gambia has since accused Senegal of harboring dissidents, which it says are “enemies of the state.”
Former military chief Ndure Cham and many others who unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow President Yahya Jammeh’s regime have taken refuge there but at least two of them, including Mahawa Cham have been abducted making it unsafe.
Zainab Koneh and Fatou Drammeh, the key prosecution witnesses left Banjul last year and told reporters from their hideout in Dakar, Senegal that they were forced by authorities to become witnesses and ‘lie against Ceesay,’ who runs the only independent broadcast station left in the country, Teranga FM.
The United States (including two senior senators) and rights groups including Amnesty International, International Federation of Journalists and Media Foundation for West Africa have asked for his release. Journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh has gone missing since 2006 and veteran journalist Deyda Hydara was shot and killed next to the head office of the country’s paramilitary unit. #World Politics #Foreign Affairs