BY: John Koroma
The Managing Editor of Salone Times Newspaper and Chairman of Guild of Editors, Mr. Theo-Harding, has been invited by the CID for insulting language against the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
When contacted to comment on the issue, Harding said as far as he was concern, he did not make any insulting language in his publication.
“I am practicing clean journalism and I have no intention of insulting any one,” he said, adding that the Guild of Editors met on Monday and discussed a lot of issues that have to do with the arrest of journalists.
“The arrest of journalists is bad and that will not help the promotion of the FOI Bill in Sierra Leone,” he said.
The Editor of Salone Times Newspaper, Thomas Dixon, also disclosed that he was personally threatened by Dr. Sylvia O. Blyden, the Special Executive Officer to the President, that he will be arrested at any time for allegedly insulting President Koroma.
“I am not afraid as society must be informed of issues affecting them,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Following the continued search to clamp down on the media house that printed the Thursday 17TH October, 2013 publication for the Independent Observer Newspaper, three personnel from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), yesterday pierced their way into the Concord Times newspaper office, 51 Kroo town Road, Freetown, on a search mission.
According to one of the personnel, Detective police Sergeant Grant A., after presenting the Search Warrant for perusal to the Editor of Concord Times Newspaper, who also doubles as the National Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, Moses Kargbo, they got information that Concord Times Communication prints for the Independent Observer Newspaper. The two other CID personnel who went on the search mission were, Detective Police Constable 7667 Sesay I.S and Detective Police Constable 11591 Mansaray A.
Speaking exclusively to Moses Kargbo after the departure of the CID personnel, he said after identifying themselves, they CID personnel said they were reliably informed that Concord Times Communication prints for the Independent Observer Newspaper. He said they CID personnel entered into their newspaper offices at around 8:30pm, during the climax of their work demanding for the lists of printing records.
He said, “When the breezed into the office, the only information giving to us was that they received information that our printing press is also printing the Independent Observer newspaper.
This is as worrying as it is frightening”. He called on all journalists to stand up to surmount the current confrontation from the “powers that be” in trying to muzzle the press.
He appealed that SLAJ needs to be steadfast, adding that “We need to stand up now than ever before”. He said the CID personnel patiently went through the list of newspapers that are registered to be printed by Concord Times Communication. He queried: “Could this be the genesis of the media crackdown that has long been prophesied about?”.
In another development, the Guild of Newspaper Editors Sierra Leone also issued a press release expressing grave concerns over the arrest and detention of the Managing editor of the Independent Observer Newspaper, Jonathan Leigh, and the editor Bai Bai Sesay, following a publication of an article that was regarded by the Sierra Leone Police to be libelous of the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma.
“The Newspaper Editors in Sierra Leone view the arrest of their colleagues as a breach of government’s promise that journalists will not be harassed, detained and/or jailed while carrying out their duties,” the release states, adding that they view the recent development as a contravention of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone and the enjoyment of Freedom of Expression and of the Press.
The Editors also believed that the Independent Media Commission (IMC), the institution set up by government must be allowed to handle media related complaints without recourse to detention and the courts.
“The Guild of Newspaper Editors therefore calls on government and other state intuitions to see reason and cause the release of the two journalists, possibly use the IMC to make any form of complaint as the case may be,” the release states.
The Editors are mindful of the fact that the media and government have had very cordial relationship over the years, which has seen either party playing a role in the development of Sierra Leone.