In Ghana, investigative film crew faces death threats, harassment

A man stands in front of a house in Enchi, Ghana, in June 2014. A Ghanaian member of parliament, Kennedy Agyapong, has been threatening investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas and those perceived as close to his undercover investigative film about corruption and football in Ghana. (Reuters/Thierry Gouegnon)
A man stands in front of a house in Enchi June 17, 2014. Picture taken June 17, 2014. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon (GHANA - Tags: SOCIETY) - GM1EA6K0HQQ01

The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Ghanaian member of parliament Kennedy Agyapong to stop threatening investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas and those perceived as close to his undercover investigative film, “Number 12,” about corruption and football in Ghana.

Mr. Agyapong, a parliament member with the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) for Assin Central in south-central Ghana, has frequently criticized Anas and today in an interview with the local privately owned radio broadcaster Adom 106.3 FM said “he [Anas] has to be hanged.”

Mr. Agyapong also called Anas a “blackmailer” and an “extortionist,” and encouraged people to attack Anas and members of his team, showing a photograph and claiming that it was Anas during a May 30 appearance on the national television channel, Net 2 TV, which the politician owns.

Mr. Anas’ identity remains unknown and he only appears in public in disguise. Images and speculation about his identity “tend to put the lives of other persons at risk,” the Ghana Association of Journalists (GJA) said in a statement.

CPJ’s repeated calls today to Mr. Agyapong on his personal phone went to voicemail.

The journalist and his team have also received threatening anonymous phone calls and been subject to physical surveillance, according to a person in Ghana familiar with the threats, who asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons, and the statement by the Ghana Association of Journalists. Some of the harassment relates to Anas’ journalism and upcoming film, which is scheduled for release on June 6, according to the same sources and Anas’ Facebook page.

“Anas Aremeyaw Anas and his team must be free to investigate and report on matters of public interest without fear of reprisal,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal. “One month ago, Ghana hosted a UNESCO World Press Freedom Day event whose theme was ‘keeping power in check.’ The threats Anas and his team face demonstrate how difficult it can be to do just that.”

In a May 29 appearance on Adom TV, Mr. Agyapong accused the journalist of being “corrupt” and said in Twi, “That Anas boy, if this were a different country, he would have been…” and then made a choking sound while dragging his finger across his throat.

Mr. Agyapong has also publicly attacked people he says are working with Anas. “If you meet him [an alleged member of Anas’ team] anywhere, slap him mercilessly. Yes, I said, beat him,” Agyapong said in the local Twi language during the May 30 television appearance.

Separately, unidentified men on May 30 attempted to break into the home of Saddick Adams, the sports department head for the privately owned Atinka Media Group, Adams posted on Twitter. “There is a gate and that’s what they tried to break through…before the police arrived,” Adams told CPJ.

Mr. Adams told CPJ he believes the men tried to break in to his home in retaliation for his work as a journalist and because he has promoted Anas’ upcoming report via radio, television, and social media. “People might even think that I assisted the investigation in some way,” he said, though he told CPJ that he was not a member of Anas’ investigative team.

Mr. Anas has previously shot investigative films on topics including alleged corruption within the Ghanaian judiciary, according to the BBC.

In a show of solidarity, supporters have taken to the internet and posted their own photos on social media with the hashtag #IamAnas.

SOURCE: Committee to Protect Journalists

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