28 January 2013

Liberia: Journalist Arrested

Police picked up Aylmer Johnson, a writer at the Daily Talk news outlet, from his house early yesterday under the watch of some personnel of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) for allegedly hoisting a banner showing the pictures of leading officials of the United Nations Mission in Liberia ((UNMIL) and heaps of 100 US$ bills in a web of corrupt practices.

The anti-UNMIL banner, which carried the inscription, "Corruption! UNMIL, UNMIL Remains Mute," was raised at the front view of the Monrovia City Hall right opposite the UNMIL headquarters in Sinkor but was reportedly removed at about 5 am.

Police could not allow journalists and other individuals including Ruth Jappa, one of Mr. Johnson's lawyers to gain access to the detainee.

An unnamed plain clothes officer who claimed to have participated in the arrest of Mr. Johnson said he was not authorized to disclose the charges against the journalist.

Sam Collins, Director of Press and Public Affairs at the police force, also declined to comment, stressing that the police were investigating the matter.

But Cllr. Jappa later told this paper that the journalist might have been arrested as a result of the banner which he printed and hoisted at the City Hall.

"I can't really say yes or no, because I am still unable to reach him. The police are stopping us from seeing our client. We don't know why," she lamented.

Though the police could not state the actual charge against Johnson who was behind bars, sources within the government told this paper that his arrest was orchestrated by some of the UNMIL bosses whose photos appeared on the banner.

Our sources also said that the MCC issued a receipt to Mr. Johnson allowing him to hoist the banner.

Efforts to contact the UNMIL top brass proved abortive.

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