After a face to face appeal by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, the president of Gambia agreed to release two American citizens into Rev. Jackson’s custody. The two men returned to the U.S. by plane with Rev. Jackson. One of the Americans, Amadou Scattred Janneh, a former professor at the University of Tennessee, was serving a life sentence for treason. Janneh has dual American and Gambian citizenship as does the other American released, Tamsir Jasseh, who was serving a 20-year sentence for treason. Jasseh is also a U.S. veteran and served in Desert Storm.
President Dr. Alhaji Yahya Jammeh said he allowed the men to leave Gambia with Jackson because of his respect for the civil rights leader. President Jammeh also agreed to extend indefinitely a moratorium on the death penalty and the execution of the 38 death row prisoners, and re-affirmed his commitment to allow the United Nations to investigate the disappearance of a Gambian newspaper reporter, shortly after being arrested by local authorities six years ago.
Rev. Jackson stated, “As a special joy, being able to take two Americans back home to their families. It was not a legal, but humanitarian plea. Those once scheduled to die are now to set to live. Those serving sentences of twenty years to life, are now scheduled to go home to their families. For that we thank God.”
This is the sixth time Rev. Jackson has traveled abroad to negotiate the release of US citizens and people from other countries held captive – in Syria, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Cuba and Liberia, and now Gambia.