Some of the sheriffs from the Civil Law Court that came to effect the closure of Spoon FM/TV

Civil Law Court Orders Spoon FM/TV Closure, But Gov’t clarifies

Some of the sheriffs from the Civil Law Court that came to effect the closure of Spoon FM/TV

Judge of the Civil Law Court of Montserrado County has ordered the immediate closure one of Liberia’s independent media outlets Spoon FM/TV owned by Spoon Network, but the Liberian Government has publicly clarified the reason behind its closure.

Civil Law Court Judge J. Kennedy Peabody on Friday, July 13, has issued a writ of attachment to close down the offices of the Management of Spoon TV and FM Communication Network.

According to the writ, the Management of Spoon and Mr. Stanton Witherspoon should be arrested and be placed under custody if they fail to show property to cover the amount of US$5,250,000.00  one-half (1½) times of US$3,500.000.00 of the amount sued.

Defendant Witherspoon and the management of Spoon Communication Networks were sued for alleged damages against the former Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo – Information Services Deputy Director General for Information Coordination, Mr. Wilmot Smith.

They were sued at the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court for Montserrado for Action of damages for Slander and Libel.

The writ said, “The Management of Spoon TV and FM Communication Network of the City of Monrovia, Montserrado County, Liberia, 1st Defendant, Mr. Stanton Witherspoon, also of the City of Monrovia, 2nd Defendant of the City of Monrovia, Montserrado County, Liberia,

But the Government of Liberia says it wishes to clarify that it is not a party to the lawsuit brought against the Management of the Spoon Network, which on Friday, July 14 resulted in the closure of the station’s premises in Monrovia.

A press statement issued today and signed by the Minister of Information, Ledgerhood J. Rinnie notes that GoL understands that the suit was instead filed months ago by Mr Wilmont Smith, a private citizen of the country, who once served as Deputy Director General for Information Coordination at LISGIS.

The statement also notes that Mr Smith stated in his lawsuit that following his dismissal from the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-information Services for Administrative Reasons by President George M. Weah, the station used its network to defame his reputation, characterising him as a “Criminal”.

The case involving the two parties was brought before the court and has been ongoing for several months. A writ was issued against the Spoon FM’s Management and its owner, Mr Stanton Witherspoon, on Friday morning, July 14, 2023, the statement narrates.

“The Government of Liberia re-emphasizes that it respects the right to freedom of speech and of the press as it has always demonstrated, but is also cognizant of the fact that an individual feeling injured by the work of a media entity also has the right to seek redress under the laws of Liberia.”

The statement further states that the courts, which are an integral part of the Judicial Branch of the Government, are independent of the Executive Branch, which has got no part in this private legal saga.

Meanwhile, the government is appalled by the irresponsible attempt of the standard bearer of the opposition Unity Party to score political capital out of a routine legal matter. The Weah-led administration’s press freedom record remains enviable, which has been repeatedly attested to by all international partners, including outgoing U.S. Ambassador Michael McCarthy.

Attempts by the UP Standard Bearer and others to link the government to this purely private legal matter are simply ridiculous, to say the least, the statement concludes.

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