Gambia TV Host Fatou Camara flees to the US
Gambian TV talk show host Fatou Camara, fled to the US after being charged with sedition, she has vowed never to go home while President Yahya Jammeh’s government is in power.
Ms. Camara, who has also served as Mr. Jammeh’s press secretary, said she would not get a fair trial.
She spent 25 days in jail in September before being charged with trying to tarnish the president’s image.
“It was all set up,” she maintained, denying the charges.
“How many people are jailed in Gambia based on anything because you know the judicial system, how do you trust it?” she said .
“Who will win a case against the state in Gambia?”
She said she believes she was targeted by people in government with personal grudges.
“I think it’s a group of people who are really jealous, who don’t want me to do what I have to do or maybe I was becoming too popular for them,” she said.
The TV presenter, who jumped bail last month, initially fled to neighboring Senegal before emerging in the US on Saturday with her family.
I was told they have an executive directive that I should not appear on that TV again”
Fatou Camara has twice served as Mr Jammeh’s director of communications – for three months in 2011 and another three months earlier this year, and was sacked on both occasions.
Until her arrest on 15 September, she presented the weekly talk show The Fatu Show on The Gambia’s only television station.
During her detention, Ms Camara said that intelligence officers demanded her Facebook and email passwords.
She would reportedly have faced 15 years in jail if she was found guilty of sedition under new internet laws.
The accusations are linked to false information about Mr Jammeh allegedly printed in the Freedom Newspaper, an online publication about The Gambia based in the US.
After Ms Camara was granted bail, she said she lost her job.
“I was told they have an executive directive that I should not appear on that TV again, you think it makes sense for me to stay there?” she said.
“Already people are running away from me, nobody wants to talk to me because nobody wants to get in trouble, so I think what I did is the best thing.”
The Gambian government’s treatment of journalists and opposition parties has long also caused huge concern among human rights groups.
Mr Jammeh seized power in 1994 as a young army lieutenant and has won four widely criticised multi-party elections since then.
Ms Camara said people in The Gambia were never openly critical of the president.
“People are living in fear, people are not comfortable, people cannot even talk on the phone because they’re scared somebody could be listening to their conversation.”