APPARENTLY bowing to international pressure, Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh has released six journalists who were jailed last month for criticizing him, according to the Catholic Information Service for Africa.

Media reports quoting a government statement said Jammeh pardoned the journalists but gave no reason for his decision.

The journalists, five men and one woman, were convicted on six counts of sedition and defamation. The journalists, including three executive members of the Gambian Press Union, got a mandatory sentence of two years' imprisonment and were fined US$10,000 on two of the six counts.

They had questioned Jammeh's declaration that the government was not responsible for the 2004 death of prominent journalist Deyda Hydara.

Following the imprisonment, the European Union expressed anxiety over press freedom in the tiny Western African nation.

Amnesty International described the journalists as "prisoners of conscience, who are being punished for peacefully expressing their views."

The French news agency AFP reported that the journalists left prison on Thursday evening chanting "the truth will always prevail".