10 June 2004

Alert

CPJ alarmed by government's recent attempts to intimidate the local media


Incident details

David Marchant, Odette Campbell, Leroy Noel

(CPJ/IFEX) - In a 9 June 2004 letter to Prime Minister Keith Mitchell, CPJ expressed alarm over the Grenadian government's recent attempts to intimidate the local media, including legal actions against the press for reporting alleged wrongdoing by Mitchell.

On 30 March, the Miami-based Internet newsletter "OffshoreAlert" published a report alleging that Mitchell had accepted US$500,000 for appointing a United States national to a diplomatic position. The prime minister denied the report, saying he had done nothing improper.

On 10 May, the opposition National Democratic Congress held a press conference denouncing the alleged corruption of Mitchell's government, as reported in "OffshoreAlert". The Grenadian Government Information Service then issued a warning that media outlets that broadcast or published the content of the press conference could face legal action. Within a few days, the government had filed a criminal libel lawsuit in Grenada brought by Mitchell against "OffshoreAlert" and its publisher, David Marchant, a British national.

On 11 May, Odette Campbell, the news director for the Grenada Broadcasting Network, which is 40 percent owned by Mitchell's government, walked out of a press conference held by the minister of tourism to protest the government's attitude toward the local media. About a dozen other journalists also participated in the walk out. Campbell was suspended for one week for her actions, and on 25 May she resigned from her position. She told CPJ that she believed that the government was responsible for her suspension but that she could not confirm her suspicions.

On 27 May, Leroy Noel, a Grenadian freelance reporter, was held for questioning about the content of an article published on 21 May in the Grenadian weekly "Spice Isle Review". The article, "NNP days are numbered," reported on connections between members of the ruling New National Party and people accused of corruption. The journalist, who regularly contributes to the Cayman Islands-based "Caribbean Net News", told CPJ that four police officers detained him while he was on his way to work at around 6:15 a.m. (local time). Authorities released Noel four hours later without charge.

On 2 June, Noel said he received an anonymous death threat on his mobile phone. Noel told CPJ that an unidentified male ordered him to stop writing about the prime minister or he would be killed. After Noel received the threat, his attorney, Anselm Clouden, requested that Grenada's police commissioner begin an investigation on the matter and provide security for Noel.



Source

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001
USA
info (@) cpj.org
Fax:+1 212 4659568
Grenada
 
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