The New Dawn (Monrovia)

Liberia: Taylor to Sue Globe - Hires U.S. Lawyers

Photo: Liberian Observer
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor at the UN-backed court for Sierra Leone.

Former President Charles Taylor has written the Boston Globe, threatening legal actions for what he termed as publication of falsehoods in relations to reports that he worked as a hired spy agent for the United States Government. Taylor claims the said article is libelous.

Lawyers representing the detained former president have at the same time written the paper requesting all documents relating to the publication including questionnaires, follow-ups and responses from the US Defense Department.

The Boston Globe quoting US Defense Department officials, last week revealed that Taylor worked as a hired spy agent of the US Government for years, thus unraveling the mystery surrounding his escape from a US prison in 1985.

But in a telephone interview with this paper Sunday, Taylor's Lead Defense Counsel, Courtenay Griffiths QC, said Taylor has not only denied the report, but was very angry and that he is considering legal actions against the Globe, with US lawyers listed to lead the said action.

"I spoke with Mr. Taylor," Mr. Griffiths said. "He was very adamant that he has never worked for any American (spy) agency. The Liberian Security Agencies have worked...His National Patriotic Party of Liberia (NPFL) ...But he as an individual has never worked (for the US Intelligence Agency).

"I know Mr. Taylor is very angry and he is not taking this likely," Griffiths told the New Dawn.

Mr. Griffiths said he finds it difficult ...and very suspicious that at the time his client is expecting a verdict in March or April this year, efforts are now being made to discredit him.

It could be recalled that in Taylor during re-examination in February 2010 denied Prosecution allegation accusing him (Taylor) of previously working for the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) while at the same time collaborating with the Libyan government which provided support to his National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel group.

"I have never, ever, and will not ever work for the CIA or any other intelligence agency, never, no," the former president told Special Court for Sierra Leone judges on February 16, 2010 during re-examination by his lead defense lawyer Courtenay Griffiths.

However, in the letter to the Globe dated January 20 and addressed to the Globe's editor, Martin Baron, Griffiths stated:

" I have seen an article in the Boston Globe written by reporter Bryan Bender, dated 17 January 2012, titled "Former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor had US spy agency ties"

My client, Mr. Charles Taylor, has instructed me to emphatically deny that he ever worked for or played any role on behalf of any United States government intelligence agency in his personal capacity.

Mr. Taylor finds it offensive for you to publish what amounts to pure speculation that he would have been useful to the US Government as a source of information regarding former Libyan President Ghadafi, the illegal arms trade, or the activities of the former Soviet Union in Africa. Such unsubstantiated insinuations are distasteful and insulting and amount to the character assassination of someone who is a revolutionary and Pan-Africanist.

In order for my client to ascertain any potential complicity on the part of the Boston Globe in the publication of this falsehood, I hereby request a copy of any materials in the possession of the Boston Globe which were used as a basis for the article, specifically and/or additionally:

•a copy of the initial FOIA request the Boston Globe sent to the US government six years ago;

•a copy of any follow-up request made by the Boston Globe recently;

•a copy of any correspondence the US government, the Defense Intelligence Agency, or the Central Intelligence Agency, sent to you in response, either six years ago or recently;

• a copy of the Pentagon's response which is summarized in the article as stating that "the details of Taylor's role on behalf of the spy agencies are contained in dozens of secret reports - at least 48 separate documents -covering several decades... the details are exempt from public disclosure because of the need to protect "sources and methods," safeguard the inner workings of American spycraft, and shield the identities of government personnel."

Your prompt response to my query would be greatly appreciated. In the meantime, my client is seeking further advice as to what options are available to him, given that he deems the article

See full text of Taylor's Letter To The Globe

Special Court For Sierra Leone Office For The Defence Of Charles Taylor

Courtenay Griffiths, Q.C. (Lead Counsel):

20 January 2012

Mr. Martin Baron Boston Globe, Editor

Dear Mr. Baron,

I have seen an article in the Boston Globe written by reporter Bryan Bender, dated 17 January 2012, titled "Former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor had US spy agency ties".1

My client, Mr. Charles Taylor, has instructed me to emphatically deny that he ever worked for or played any role on behalf of any United States government intelligence agency in his personal capacity. Mr. Taylor finds it offensive for you to publish what amounts to pure speculation that he would have been useful to the US Government as a source of information regarding former Libyan President Ghadafi, the illegal arms trade, or the activities of the former Soviet Union in Africa. Such unsubstantiated insinuations are distasteful and insulting and amount to the character assassination of someone who is a revolutionary and Pan-Africanist.

In order for my client to ascertain any potential complicity on the part of the Boston Globe in the publication of this falsehood, I hereby request a copy of any materials in the possession of the Boston Globe which were used as a basis for the article, specifically and/or additionally:

• a copy of the initial FOIA request the Boston Globe sent to the US government six years ago;

• a copy of any follow-up request made by the Boston Globe recently;

• a copy of any correspondence the US government, the Defence Intelligence Agency, or the Central Intelligence Agency, sent to you in response, either six years ago or recently;

• a copy of the Pentagon's response which is summarized in the article as stating that "the details of Taylor's role on behalf of the spy agencies are contained in dozens of secret reports - at least 48 separate documents -covering several decades... the details are exempt from public disclosure because of the need to protect "sources and methods," safeguard the inner workings of American spycraft, and shield the identities of government personnel."

Your prompt response to my query would be greatly appreciated. In the meantime, my client is seeking further advice as to what options are available to him, given that he deems the article libelous.

Regards,

Courtenay Griffiths, QC

Lead Counsel for Mr. Charles Ghankay Taylor

CC: Caleb Solomon, Managing Editor,

Christopher Rowland, Assistant Managing Editor, Washington Bureau,

Crowlaand@globe. coin

Bryan Bender, Reporter,

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Former Liberian President Charles Taylor at the UN-backed court for Sierra Leone.

The U.S. paper that printed the story about a purported link between former president Charles Taylor and the U.S. CIA has printed a retraction, following threats of a lawsuit. Read more »