GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC –The Guyana government Friday defended the decision by the police to launch an investigation into the circumstances that allowed two journalists to enter the premises of the National Intelligence Centre (NIC) even though the action had been criticised by the Guyana Media Association (GMA).
Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon told a news conference that the Office of the President was advised that the journalists had indicated they were visiting the facility under the instruction of Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee.
“The minister of course denied any such involvement and purely on that basis the decision was made to get to the bottom of this matter. It turns out that indeed the reporters were from Stabroek News,” he added.
The GPA said it was “appalled” at the decision of the police to question the journalists and Stabroek News newspaper reported Tuesday that following an investigation ordered by the Office of the President, a detective from the Guyana Police Force (GPF) questioned the paper’s editor in chief Anand Persaud and a driver on a visit by reporters to the National Intelligence Centre (NIC).
The paper said that after interviewing the Persaud, the police intercepted the vehicle used in the visit to the NIC and “ordered the driver to go to Police Headquarters, where he was made to give a statement without the benefit of counsel”
In its statement, the GPA said “the reporters were doing what reporters do on a daily basis worldwide in properly functioning democracies, being the watchdogs of the society.
“It is unfortunate that those who seek to watch the watchdogs and others are seeking to intimidate and troll the reporters by using the unorthodox method of questioning how journalists do their job. As has happened in the past, during a different administration, there was an effort made to intimidate journalists who were pursuing an important story about thallium poisoning. The bark was worse than the bite then as it is now,” the GPA said.
But Luncheon said he had written to Persaud about the incident but that the senior journalist denied the reporters had disclosed they were instructed to visit the facility by the minister.
‘Our investigations have established beyond any doubt on our side that yes indeed they did say that the minister sent them. Essentially that police involvement recognises the very critical importance that this institution has and to disabuse minds out there that they indeed can undertake a simple jaunt into the NIC, use the minister’s name at will for purposes unclear and unknown to us, the police will be called in,” Luncheon said.
He said the authorities were now awaiting the official police report before proceeding even as he acknowledged that no law had been broken.
“Anywhere else in the world where the headquarters of the intelligence centre of a nation is approached under such circumstances that it would be most unlikely that the authorities would baptise, condone, ignore such an event.”