Monrovia, July 3, 2014: The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has detested the continued and unjustified detention of Journalist Octavin Williams, Publisher of the Nation Times Newspaper by authorities of the Liberia National Police.
Deputy Police Inspector General Abraham Kromah on Wednesday evening ordered the arrest and subsequent detention of the Liberian journalist for what was initially referred to as “driving a vehicle with an American license plate”.
Subsequent claims against Williams have been cited as disorderly conduct, driving an undocumented vehicle and simple assault. Efforts by the Press Union of Liberia and its lawyers to release the journalists from further detention failed up to 5PM Thursday.
PUL President Abdullai Kamara described Octavin’s arrest as a classic act of harassment, geared towards driving the journalist into self-censorship.
The PUL said police authorities were dragging their feet and acting intentionally to keep the journalist in detention, and described their engagements as being marred by inconsistencies that nearly run the patience of the PUL leadership and lawyers. “Up to now we don’t know the actual crime he is accused of,” PUL President Kamara said.
The PUL said it is fully aware of an earlier complaint filed with it against Col. Abraham Kromah by journalist Williams in which the journalist accused him of threatening his life and going after him. The PUL said the arrest comes just after it had gotten assurances from Col. Kromah that he was willing to appear for a hearing at the PUL for a probe into the complaint, pending an official communication. “We now see the reality in the complaint filed by the journalist, and we believe that the unprovoked harassment, tyrannical arrest and unacceptable detention of journalist Williams as going beyond the conflicting reasons stated by the police,” PUL Secretary General D. Kaihenneh Sengbeh added.
The PUL has therefore called on the Police authorities to return to the status quo of the rule of law to release the journalist if it should survive a mass media action in the country. Meanwhile, all members of the Press Union are invited to converge at the offices of the Union at 11am on Friday to chart further actions.