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British couple sentenced for sedition in Gambia

British couple sentenced for sedition in Gambia

Two British missionaries were sentenced Tuesday in Gambia to one-year jail terms with hard labor for criticizing the tiny West African country's government.
David and Fiona Fulton pleaded guilty last week to charges of sedition, and asked the court for a lenient sentence.
The pair, who have worked in Gambia for years, were arrested late last month in the predominantly Muslim nation after allegedly sending a letter to individuals and groups criticizing the government.
Gambia, a sliver of land within Senegal, has been ruled by the regime of Yayha Jammeh since he grabbed power in a 1994 coup.
Judge Edrissa Mbai said Tuesday the couple had shown no respect for Gambian authority or for Jammeh.
"In this country there is a law that one has to obey, whether Gambian or non-Gambian," Mbai said in the packed courtroom in the capital, Banjul.
The Fultons had originally maintained their innocence, but changed their plea at a hearing last week in which David Fulton apologized to the Gambian public and to Jammeh.
Defense lawyer Antoumane Gaye told the court his clients had been working to help Gambia for years, and asked that they be spared jail time.
It was not immediately clear where in Gambia the Britons would serve their sentences.
The two had been held separately _ David Fulton in solitary confinement at Gambia's high-security Mile Two prison, and Fiona at a police station, according to the Web site of the Westhoughton Pentecostal Church in the northern English town of Bolton. The church has supported the couple in the past and is lobbying for their release.
Gambia is a former British colony, and critics say its people have limited freedom of expression under a repressive government.


Updated : 2021-01-28 16:04 GMT+08:00