September 18th, 2012
03:29 AM ET

Gambia frees 2 Americans imprisoned for treason; agrees to halt executions

Two American citizens serving long prison sentences for treason in Gambia will return to the United States Tuesday night after the Rev. Jesse Jackson made a face-to-face appeal for their release to President Yahya Jammeh.

In a separate concession, Jammeh agreed to halt indefinitely dozens of executions he had originally planned to carry out by mid September, according to Jackson's non-profit Rainbow Push Coalition.

The tiny West African nation last executed an inmate about 30 years ago, but in August the president announced he would have all death row prisoners put to death - 47 in total.

The pronouncement sparked the outrage of human rights activists around the world and was the catalyst for Jackson's trip "to plead for mercy."

The freed Americans were not on death row.

One them, Amadou Scattred Janneh, was serving a life sentence for printing and distributing T-shirts critical of Jammeh, according to Amnesty International. The T-shirts bore the slogan "End Dictatorship Now."

Janneh once served as Gambia's minister of information, and also taught at the University of Tennessee.

The second man, Tamsir Jasseh, who served in the U.S. military during Operation Desert Storm, was serving a 20-year sentence for his role in a failed coup against the president.

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soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. banasy©

    Notice why Janneh was given a life sentence?
    For printing and distributing a T-shirt...proving that other nations do not embrace the American right of free speech in a country that has none.
    The world does not run by America's laws, as much as Americans would like it to be so...
    "When in Rome..."

    September 18, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  2. Akbar

    America is immigrating two death row Gambian felons why?

    September 18, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      They are not on death row.
      One had a life sentence, for selling t-shirts that said "End Dictatorship Now", and the other, a twenty year sentence for his role in trying to overthrow said dictatorship.
      Both are American citizens.

      September 18, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Medicated

    Wow. Every time I read about someone like Janneh, who put his life n freedom on the line to disseminate pro-freedom messages, I am humbled. Making T-shirts seems like a small thing; but putting the message on it was brave.

    Still figuring out what I think n feel about the other man's activities bc I don't know if they were military or not.

    September 18, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. toddcourt1

    Good Job Jesse Jackson! These men were unjustly imprisoned and maybe now their voices can be heard to help influence the lives of their comrades in Gambia to change some of the apparent tyrannic rule they suffered under. What a noble cause and how blessed these men are now with their freedom.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |