Gambian authorities shut down private radio station

Private radio station, Citizen FM, has been shut down by Gambian authorties. It was ordered to close down on Monday after its owner Baboucar Gaye was accused of not paying his income tax amounting to 93,000 dalasi (equivalent to US $5500).

Gaye, who was picked up by agents of the national intelligence service, NIA, and held for four hours, denies defaulting in his tax obligations. Speaking to IRIN shortly after his release, he said he would pay the amount in order to get his station back on the air and then fight his case in court. This is not the first time Gaye has fallen foul of the state authorities. Founded in 1995, Citizen FM describes itself as “the voice of the people”, specialising in news stories at times critical of the government. In 1998 the government ordered the closure of the station and the seizure of all its equipment after accusing Gaye of running the station without a license. After a 18-month legal battle and numerous appeals, the Gambian High Court ruled against the state, allowing Citizen FM to resume broadcasting in August 2000. Gaye' troubles come exactly a week after the same state intelligence agents picked up another private radio proprietor, George Christensen, and detained him for four days for income tax violation in addition to running a radio station without a license. “This is nothing more than an attempt to gag the independent media,” Gaye told IRIN.