Washington DC: January 21, 2009. The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) www.persecution.org has learned that a missionary couple from the United Kingdom have been sentenced to one year of imprisonment with h
The sentence which was passed on December 30, 2008, also includes a fine of 250,000 dalasis (about $ 9,524). According to the court, the couple will be imprisoned for an additional six months if they do not pay the fine.
David Fulton, 60, and his wife, Fiona, 47, have been living in The Gambia for the past ten years. Mr. Fulton worked to spread the gospel in remote villages of The Gambia, and Mrs. Fulton was mainly involved in humanitarian assistance to poor and marginalized people.
"They are evangelical missionaries who have seen some people come to know the Lord. There is no political motive in what they do at all," said Martin Speed in the statement he gave to ICC. Mr. Speed is the Pastor of the Westhoughton Pentecostal Church in Bolton, England. His church was one of the churches that had been financially supporting David and Fiona.
A friend of the couple who spoke to ICC indicated that David is understood to be suffering form scurvy and has not yet received medical attention. Fiona may also be suffering from a mouth ulcer.
CC has also learned that The Gambian authorities have barred anyone from visiting the couple for a period of one month beginning from the date of sentencing.
Gambian authorities accused the couple of making seditious statements in the emails they wrote to their friends and supporters in the UK. Following the verdict, the government controlled newspaper, Daily Observer, stated, "Apparently, the aim of David and his wife was to inflict maximum damage on the exemplary relationship that exists between the two religions of Christianity and Islam in this unquestionably peaceful nation."
David and Fiona pleaded guilty to the allegation of sedition after consulting with their lawyer. Following the verdict, they also wrote a letter to the president of The Gambia pleading for clemency. In the letter they wrote, "We certainly had no intention to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the president or the government of the Gambia. We humbly apologise totally, unreservedly and without exception for anything and everything that we have said that has caused offence and we fully and publicly withdraw any such remarks. We apologise to the Security Services for the trouble we have caused them."
ICC's Regional Manager for Africa, Jonathan Racho, stated, "We politely ask the officials of the government of The Gambia to release David and Fiona considering their relentless effort to help the poor and the marginalized section of the society in the county and considering the poor state of their health." He also added, "We would like to ask his Excellency Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, the president of The Gambia, to accept the couple's plea for clemency."
lease pray for the safe release of David and Fiona and for their health. Pray that God will give them comfort and courage as they go through this difficult time.