Tamsir Jassey Recounts Hard Prison Life

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Tamsir, Jackson & Dr. Janneh  
Photo: Hayden Roger Celestin

Tamsir Jassey who was released alongside Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh from Gambian prisons has recounted the hard conditions in jail.

“Prisons all over the world are not easy to be in, especially in a poor country like the Gambia,” Mr. Jassey told American television.

“It was a very difficult time being separated from your family and love ones. It was not easy but you just have to be strong and hope one day, somehow good Lord Almighty will come give you a hand out of there.”

Mr. Jassey was a former Director of Immigration in the Gambia who jailed for 20 years in prison with hard labour in August 2007 after he was guilty of treason. The 55-year-old US military veteran was arrested in March 2006 after the Gambia government purportedly foiled a coup attempt.

For Dr. Janneh, the release came at a time when “we were trying to figure how to survive a decade or so in jail and abruptly told you have to leave right away because Rev Jackson had been in town and secured your release.”

Mr. Janneh, who turned 50 on the day of his release, was the Gambia’s former Minister of Information. He was jailed for life in January for treason and conspiracy to overthrow the government of President Yahya Jammeh.

Janneh’s only crime – if there were any – stemmed from the printing and distribution of T-shirts bearing the slogan “Coalition for Change the Gambia, End to Dictatorship Now.”

United States civil rights activist Rev Jesse Jackson Sr. flew to Banjul to negotiate the release of the two US-Gambian citizens. He also convinced President Yahya Jammeh to definitely halt the execution of death row inmates.

Rev Jackson said “those who were expected to die are now expected to live and those who were in prison are now home,” the reverend said.

Senior US Democrat on the House Africa Subcommittee, Karen Bass, issued a statement offering sincere thanks and gratitude to Rev. Jackson for “his extraordinary efforts to free two Americans from harsh imprisonment in Gambia, allowing them to return home to the U.S. to be with their loved ones.

“Rev. Jackson has a history of serving as an international diplomat in sensitive situations like this one, including the release of Navy Lieutenant Robert Goodman from Syria and 48 Cuban and Cuban-American prisoners from Cuba. Rev. Jackson’s leadership has been invaluable in this situation and I commend his foresight to assure these American citizens are able to be in the safety of their homes with the people they love most.”