(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Detained journalist freed

Guinea-Bissau journalist, Joao de Barros, who was arrested for criticizing President Kumba Yala was released on Wednesday, news agencies reported.

The journalist who began a hunger strike on Tuesday, a day after his arrest, was released in accordance with Guinean law, as a suspect can only be detained for 48 hours without being charged, the Portuguese news agency, LUSA, reported. The journalist, Lusa added, must now present himself to the authorities every 10 days.

De Barros was arrested on Monday afternoon shortly after appearing on a private radio show in which he charged that Yala's recent allegations of foiled coup plots arose because of corruption in government. He had described as "pathetic" Yala's threat to "crush" Gambia militarily.

On 11 June, Yala threatened to act against the Gambia for alleged involvement in coup plots against him. Yala was speaking before an audience of diplomats and civil society.

An Interior Ministry official, Baciro Dabo, told national radio that De Barros was detained both for his radio comments and for unexplained "other things".

The Gambian government described as "untrue and unfounded" reports by Yala that it was involved in two reported plots to overthrow the Bissau government. A strongly-worded statement from the ministry of foreign affairs said President Yahya Jammeh and his government received the reports with "consternation".

Meanwhile, Guinea-Bissau's foreign minister, Filomena Mascarenhas Tipote, was scheduled to begin a tour of neighbouring West African States on Thursday to discuss the diplomatic hitch with the Gambia.

The minister would deliver a message from President Yala to his Gambian counterpart Jammeh, Lusa reported.

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