11 March 2014

Liberia: Ellen Threatens Chronicle Newspaper With Lawsuit

The International Law Group (ILG), which represents the legal interest of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, has said it intends to initiate legal action against the Chronicle Newspaper if the management of the paper does not withdraw immediately a story it posted in its paper on March 7, 2014.

Mr. Philibert Browne is the publisher of the Chronicle Newspaper. In an official communication dated March 7, 2014 and addressed to the management of the Chronicle Newspaper, a copy of which is in possession of the Heritage, the ILG recalled that the story was headlined "In the wake of Aicha Konneh's Alleged Gold-And-Diamond Smuggling For President Sirleaf: President Sirleaf Under International Security Watch." According to the communication signed by J. Fonati Koffa, Esq, the entire story, as to the whole and its subparts, is false relatively and absolutely as to the involvement of President Sirleaf in any transaction with Ms. Konneh.

Asserted the communication: "In fact the body of the story contradicts the headline in that the story claims that it is Ms. Konneh, not President Sirleaf, who is under the so-called international security watch. Moreover, the story attempts to tie various slanderous allegations, of unproven nature, to create the impression that President Sirleaf is engaged in or supported unlawful activity." "The falsity of the statement is not only distressing to our client but demeans her image and reputation as a peaceful citizen and a responsible leader of Liberia. She has asked us to institute a lawsuit as a legal remedy," the communication among other things added. Meanwhile, the management of the Chronicle Newspaper through its Publisher, Mr. Philibert Browne, said the paper stands by its story.

In a brief interview yesterday with this paper via cell phone in response to the ILG communication in which the President asked it (ILG) to institute lawsuit as a legal remedy, Mr. Brown uttered: "We are not retracting any story, we did not make up the story. If anyone has problem with the Chronicle Newspaper regarding this particularly story let he or she seeks redress from the United Nations." When quizzed by this paper regarding an assertion by the ILG that the body of the story contradicts the headline, the boss of the Chronicle Newspaper averred that his paper never contracted itself.

According to him, if Mr. Koffa and President Sirleaf want to sue the paper, they are welcomed to do so. "We did not manufacture the story. The UN Panel of Experts Report on Liberia is our source of our story, so we are not deterred by any threat of lawsuit from Mr. Koffa and the President," the tough talking Publisher of the Chronicle Newspaper maintained.

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