IFJ Calls for End of Press Intimidation in Liberia

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called for the end of the intimidation of the press after reports that security officers were monitoring newspapers stories at printing houses and that newspaper editor Sam Dean is in hiding after he published photographs of a minister that started a political sex scandal.

“We call for the government to take efficient measures to put an end to this attempt of intimidation,” said Gabriel Baglo Director of IFJ Africa office. “There is no point for individuals to try to exert their own justice. We urge the government to protect Sam Dean and to conduct investigation on his threats.”

Dean’s newspaper, The Independent, published at the end of February explicit photographs of a minister engaged in sexual acts with two women. The Minister resigned after this scandal and the government revoked the licence of the newspaper for one year and the police closed its offices for 48 hours.

According to a statement of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Dean has said his life is in danger due to continuous threats made by state security agents. His staff members are also being harassed, MFWA added.

According to reports received by IFJ affiliate the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) some officers of the National Security Agency (NSA) have been going to printing houses at night to monitor newspaper headlines and lead stories that will be published in the next day’s edition.

Information Minister, Dr. Lawrence Bropleh and the NSA Director Fomba Sheriff denied the reports. Sheriff told The Inquirer newspaper that even though a printer was invited to the agency to discuss the investigation, “that printer was never informed that the government would review the headlines before publication.”

The PUL said that there can be no justification for a security agency to invite a printing house to participate in the investigation other than to intimidate the media.

For further information contact the IFJ: +221 842 01 43

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries