Press Union Asks Justice Minister for Investigation into Journalist’s Claim of Assassination Plot

MONROVIA, Montserrado – The Press Union of Liberia has written Justice Minister Musa Dean to request an open and impartial investigation into allegations made by the CEO and general manager of Sky Communications Inc., T-Max Jlateh.

According to a Press Union release, Jlateh has complained of dozens of death threats – mostly from loyalists of the government and pro-Weah zealots – against him and his family.

Jlateh also claimed that a meeting plotting to execute him was held last Thursday with ex-rebel generals under the supervision of high-ranking ministers in the George Weah’s led government.

“The popular and critical talk show host furthered that another meeting aimed at killing him was held under the leadership of a sitting senator because of his critical views on national subjects,” the Press Union wrote.

“Mr. Attorney General, T-Max Jlateh, in keeping with the above, has informed the Press Union of Liberia that he is viciously pursued and tailed on a daily basis since the reported meetings were held.”

On April 4, the government issued a release claiming concern over the allegations made by the popular talk show host.
The release said although the journalist did not make a formal complaint to authorities on his claim, the government considers the allegation grave enough to warrant a speedy investigation.

“Journalists are an integral prerequisite for a fully functioning democracy that the administration of President George M. Weah is considering. This is evidenced by the recent passage of the K. Abdullai Kamara Act of Press Freedom and other pro-media actions which decriminalize speech offenses and create a platform for free expression,” the government noted in a press release signed by Information Minister Eugene Nagbe.

The government said it intended to work with the Press Union and the journalism community on the alarming claim in order to investigate it, adding that there was no place for such intimidation and violence in Liberia. The release called on the SKY FM manager to cooperate with the relevant agencies and provide the necessary information to assist in the investigation.

It further encouraged media practitioners to continue to contribute responsibly to the national discourse and avoid incendiary propositions that could undermine peace.

Meanwhile, the Press Union has said while it anticipates a speedy police investigation, it is also asking that the security of the media executive is prioritized by state security and all protections provided to him.

“It worries us at the Press Union and all lovers of liberty when these very grave allegations are coming out at the time when partnerships are being forged at different levels of government to improve the operating environment of the media in Liberia,” the union noted.
It added that the conclusive nature of the inquest it is seeking on the reported threat will assure the journalism community in the country that the government is not targeting some of its members.

Featured image courtesy of  Tori Rector

Gbatemah Senah

Gbatemah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. In 2017, Senah won three Press Union of Liberia awards: Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Land Rights Reporter of the Year. In 2018, he was also recognized as the Land Rights Reporter of the Year.

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