The New Dawn (Monrovia)

7 September 2012

Liberia: Govt Recounts Ordeal With Danish Journalist

Photo: New Democrat
Monrovia is abuzz with conversations of the Danish journalist controversy.

Liberia's Information Minister Lewis Brown has commented on the appointment of Danish Journalist Mads Johan Brygger Cortzen as honorary consul general for Liberia, saying the only authentic document Cortzen received from the Government of Liberia was his commission by President Sirleaf in July 2011 to represent the country to the Central African Republic or C.A.R.

Cortzen obtained his diplomatic status from the Liberian authorities, while working as an undercover journalist here, filming a documentary on corruption in African governments. The production, titled 'The Diplomat' subsequently portrayed the Sirleaf Administration as corrupt after he allegedly bribed his way through the government bureaucracy.

Brown admitted that the process put in place for vetting applicants for Honorary Consuls and other honorary title holders is not perfect, thus government will continue to improve the system.

He recalled that in 2007, over 100 honorary consuls appointed by faction leaders during the civil war and later inherited by the present administration were suspended.

Following weeks of intense controversies over Cortzen's claims of purchasing the Liberian Diplomatic Passport at US$150,000.00, government's investigation here claims Cortzen's diplomatic passport was forged and his title as Ambassador-At-Large bogus.

The Information Minister told a news conference Thursday that Cortzen's appointment as Honorary Consul was effected July 2011, while is diplomatic passport is dated September 2010 with the title Ambassador-At-Large, emphasizing "this government never appointed him as Ambassador-At-Large."

Brown however contradicted himself at the ministry's regular press briefing when he argued the authorities adhered to vetting procedure that led to Cortzen's appointment, noting no official misconduct occurred in the process.

He described Cortzen "an admitted and dedicated fraudster", who simply slipped through the "crack", using several aliases and pseudonyms, and succeeded in securing Danish Police clearance.

The MICAT boss said with those alleged bogus instruments, Cortzen passed rigorous background checks by the National Security Agency (NSA) and international network to achieve his objective.

Brown: "Indications are that Mr. Cortzen, the Danish Journalist, whose credo seems to be the ends justifying the means, may have made the sensational claim of spending US$150,000.00 to purchase Liberian Diplomatic Passport and titles as a stunt to gain international publicity for his film."

Meanwhile, the Liberian Government has reaffirmed its fullest confidence in former Foreign Minister Dr. Toga Gyewea McIntosh, currently an ECOWAS Vice President under whose tenure as minister, Cortzen claimed to have bought the title.

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