LIBERIA: Following Attempted Arrest Of Publisher By Truck Load Of Police, Gov’t Shut Down National Chronicle Newspaper

Mr, Philipbert Brown, Publisher National Chronicle Newspaper

 

The Liberian Government through the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism has with immediate effect suspended the publication of the National Chronicle newspaper.

In a letter to the paper’s Publisher Philibert Browne dated August 16, the Ministry said the suspension of the National Chronicle was based upon a complaint filed by the national security apparatus, including the Liberia National Police.

“The national security apparatus, including the Liberia National Police has drawn the urgent attention of the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism to ongoing investigations necessitated by at least two publications of the National Chronicle Newspaper,” the letter said.

It said the police claimed that “the democratic order and consolidation processes of the country are being torpedoed and reversed by means not provided for by the Liberian Constitution in the summary replacement of the administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf by a transitional administration.

“The National Chronicle also claims that these unconstitutional maneuvers have the backing and support of a friendly government with which the Liberian Government and people have long-standing and ongoing excellent relations,” the letter to Browne said.

Copies of the letter were sent to Justice Minister Christian Tah; National Security Advisor Henry Boima Fahnbelleh; Christopher Massaquoi, Inspector General of the Liberia National Police; Fomba Sirleaf, Director, National Security Agency; Mr. K. Abdullai Karama, President, Press Union of Liberia and Mr. Stanley Seakor, President, Newspapers Publishers’ Association.

The Information Ministry said: “Aware of the recent difficult history of our country, the security institutions are entreating these claims with the deserved level of seriousness, and have requested that the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism immediately suspend all further publications of the National Chronicle Newspaper to enable a thorough investigation.”

“We feel compelled to oblige this request and to dutifully inform you that the publication of the National Chronicle Newspaper is hereby suspended pending the conclusion of these investigations which we have been assured will be conducted and concluded in the shortest possible time,” said the letter signed by Deputy Information Minister for Press and Public Affairs, Atty. Isaac W. Jackson, Jr.

The release said the action on the part of MICAT is necessitated by urgent national security concerns, and “ought not to reflect on the enviable record of the Liberian Government in protecting freedom of speech and the press.”

“In due time, and without compromising the ongoing investigations of the security, we intend to seek and explore remedial actions from the Press Union of Liberia on a number of ethical journalistic transgressions which we have subsequently discovered to be punctuated throughout the nationally-disturbing publications leading to the unwarranted panic, fear and uncertainty in the society, at a time when the country is desperately coming together to tackle the dreadful Ebola Virus,” the letter added.

MICAT urged the National Chronicle newspaper to “fully cooperate with the ensuing investigations and the suspension order.”

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