GLOBAL: Academic freedom reports worldwide

A Guinean student in The Gambia has been released after more than two months in prison or under house arrest, following accusations that he had been planning an uprising. In the UK an Oxford academic has been allowed, under freedom of information laws, to read formerly secret data on climate change. Ireland's Royal College of Surgeons has come under fire for urging staff and students at its medical school in Bahrain not to become involved in politics and for failing to take a stand against the repression of doctors. And in Malaysia, a South Korean student has been arrested after attending a pro-democracy protest.

The Gambia: Guinean student released

A Guinean student in The Gambia has been released after more than two months in prison or under house arrest, following accusations that he had been planning an Egypt-style uprising, AllAfrica reported on 5 July.

Mouctar Diallo, a Guinean anthropology student at the American University in Cairo (AUC), was arrested on 30 April in Gambia where he was conducting research for his masters thesis on transnational migration.

Diallo was accused by the Gambian National Intelligence Agency of threatening national security by spreading revolutionary ideas.

After his arrest, he spent a week in detention for questioning and was then placed under house arrest. It has been reported that Diallo was not tortured, only thanks to the presence of a Guinean official. On 28 June, he was taken into custody where he was informed by the authorities that charges of terrorism were pending against him.

According to Phillip Risk, a colleague of Diallo's at AUC, his close connection to Egypt and leftist literature found in his confiscated belongings, prompted the intelligence agency to think that Diallo was planning to organise an Egypt-style uprising against the Gambian authorities.

After his release, Diallo declared that he had been cleared of all accusations by the Gambian intelligence service and that he would be able to leave the country in the following days, after the Gambian police had completed a last check on his student status.

UK: Oxford academic allowed access to climate data

An Oxford academic has been allowed, through freedom of information laws, to read formerly secret data on climate change, the Guardian reported on 1 July.

Jonathan Jones, a physics professor at Oxford University, has been authorised by the UK government's information commissioner, Christopher Graham, to access data on climate change held by the University of East Anglia.

The Guardian reported that the access "is being hailed as a landmark ruling that will mean that thousands of British researchers are required to share their data with the public". The decision gives him the right to read data collected by Phil Jones, the head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. His research contains more than four million records of temperature taken in 4,000 weather stations over a period of 160 years.

Jonathan Jones took the case to the information commissioner after he was refused access to Phil Jones' data, which had already been shared with some of his collaborators. It reveals scientists battling over the interpretation of climate change information.

East Anglia scientists were accused by climate change sceptics of having misinterpreted the evidence of global warming, after the latter had hacked into the emails of scientists at the university.

Jonathan Jones, who calls himself a "climate change agnostic", said his aim was to analyse the data and restore scientific norms in climate change science.

The University of East Anglia said it had nothing to hide and would provide the data "as soon as possible".

Bahrain: Medical students asks to remain silent over protests

Students at the Bahrain Medical School, a campus of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), were asked not to talk about politics, The Sunday Times reported (subscription required) on 26 June. RCSI has been criticised for not taking a stand against the repression of doctors in Bahrain.

Staff at Bahrain Medical School were asked by Cathal Kelly, Chief Executive of the RCSI, to remain a-political during the conflict that has divided the kingdom. Students were asked not to use email to discuss politics and protests, and not to use the RCSI logo in political events.

The Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland's largest medical college, opened a medical school in Bahrain in 2004, in a ambitious EUR60 million (US$86 million) project.

But now its reputation has suffered from its failure to condemn the Bahraini authorities' crackdown on medical staff. Doctors have been arrested, including several RCSI members such Dr Ali Essa al-Ekri, who was trained at Temple Street Children's hospital 10 years ago and has been accused of plotting against the government.

Despite the Royal College of Surgeons in England condemning attacks on doctors in Bahrain, RCSI remained silent for months about human rights violations, and has faced growing criticism from the Irish and international medical communities.

In a statement recently released to calm detractors, Kelly said the institution's officials had met with members of the Bahraini government several times in February to express their concern over detained medical personnel. But the declaration is unlikely to satisfy the medical community, as 48 doctors are still on trial in Bahrain.

Malaysia: South Korean student arrested for attending protest

A South Korean student has been arrested in Malaysia after attending a pro-democracy protest, Asian Correspondent reported on 4 July.

According to The Star, she was one of two foreigners detained on 25 June along with 29 members of the Party Sosialis Malaysia.

Min Young-song, an applied chemistry student at Jeollanam-do University in South Korea who has a strong interest in the Malaysian pro-democracy movement, had been doing an internship since March at the National Institute for Electoral Integrity (NIEI), an organisation that promotes democracy.

Asian Correspondent reported that Song was arrested while on her way to an anti-government demonstration in Johor in southern Malaysia, and was detained for 24 hours. She was re-arrested two days later near her house in Kuala Lumpur and detained in Bukit.

Officially, Song was arrested for violating immigration laws, and the police suspect her passport and visa to be fake. Under violation of the Malaysian immigration law, a person can be detained for up to 14 days without being charged.

Security officials are also investigating her alleged links with protestors and her participation in an anti-government demonstration, putting her at risk of violating national security laws.

The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who confirmed Song's safety and valid visa, asked for her immediate release.

* Noemi Bouet is a programme assistant at the Network for Education and Academic Rights, NEAR, a non-profit organisation that facilitates the rapid global transfer of accurate information in response to breaches of academic freedom and human rights in education.