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U.S. Rep. Johnson Condemns Journalist’s Assassination, Calls for Sanctions Targeting Ghanaian Parliamentarian and U.S. Assistance for Ghanaian Police Investigation

The full press release

 
January 18, 2019
Press Release
Congressman: “Those responsible, no matter their titles, must face justice”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04), a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, today condemned the shooting death of Ghanaian journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale, who was killed late Wednesday in Ghana’s capital Accra.

Hussein-Suale was an undercover journalist. In 2018, he was part of a team whose investigation of widespread corruption in Ghanaian and international soccer exposed more than 100 referees taking bribes; resulted in outright dissolution of the Ghana Football Association; and led to a lifetime FIFA ban for Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi, who was a member of the FIFA Council, the sport’s supreme international governing body.

When the results of that anti-corruption investigation became public in mid-2018, Mr. Hussein-Suale was targeted with outrageous threats of violence by Mr. Kennedy Agyapong MP, a member of the Ghanaian parliament and media executive with close ties to those directly implicated in Mr. Hussein-Suale’s journalism.

In May and June 2018, Mr. Agyapong openly called for violence against Mr. Hussein-Suale, published his photograph and publicized his whereabouts. Mr. Agyapong’s actions were condemned at the time by the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders.

On Friday morning, Congressman Johnson wrote to the State Department to request that U.S. diplomatic authorities report to Congress regarding:

1.         Assess the potential scope of U.S. diplomatic, law enforcement, and intelligence support for the Government of Ghana’s investigation of Mr. Hussein-Suale’s death, including potential Federal Bureau of Investigation support via the Office of the Legal Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Accra;

2.         Conduct an independent assessment of the murder and the quality and scope of the Ghanaian government’s investigation; and

3.         Determine what sanctions may be levied against Kennedy Agyapong MP, including a ban on travel to the U.S., a ban on access to the U.S. banking system for Mr. Agyapong and his businesses, and any other appropriate and applicable sanctions.

“When the instigation by government officials of violence against journalists is tolerated in any country, it imperils the free press everywhere, including here in the United States,” said Rep. Johnson. “The United States government should offer its powerful investigative capabilities to the Ghanaian government to help bring these killers to justice. When unscrupulous politicians and public figures openly call for violence targeting journalists, they should be held to account. As in the case of Jamal Khashoggi, those responsible for this murder, no matter their lofty titles, must face justice.”

Rep. Johnson’s letter

The Honorable Mike Pompeo

Secretary of State

U.S. State Department

2201 C St. NW

Washington, DC 20520

January 18, 2019

Dear Secretary Pompeo,

I write to urge maximum U.S. diplomatic, law enforcement, and intelligence support for an investigation into the murder of journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale, who was shot to death in Ghana on January 16, 2019, as well as to urge the application of travel, banking, and other applicable sanctions targeting Kennedy Agyapong MP, a Ghanaian politician who urged violence against the journalist prior to his murder.

Mr. Hussein-Suale established his reputation as an undercover journalist exposing corruption, most prominently in the 2018 investigation of disgraced FIFA Council member Kwesi Nyantakyi. The suspicious circumstances of his murder this week warrant particular scrutiny. As Americans dedicated to press freedom, we must acknowledge that repression of the free press anywhere threatens the free press everywhere, including here at home.

Mr. Hussein-Suale worked as a journalist investigating corruption in many sectors, from government to international athletics, alongside famed reporter Anas Aremeyaw Anas for Tiger Eye PI and the British Broadcasting Corporation. In May 2018, the duo published footage of senior FIFA Council Member Kwesi Nyantaki accepting a $63,000 bribe from undercover journalists. Soon after, FIFA stripped Mr. Nyantakyi of his position and banned him from the sport for life. After Mr. Hussein-Suale, Mr. Anas, and their colleagues exposed widespread corruption across Ghana’s national soccer league earlier this year, Ghanaian President Nana Akfo-Addo summarily dissolved the Ghana Football Association. The same investigation exposed dozens of soccer officials accepting illegal payments, including a referee scheduled to officiate at last year’s World Cup in Moscow, Russia.

On Wednesday, January 16, Mr. Hussein-Suale was killed near his home by three bullets fired at close range — two in his chest and one in his neck. No arrests have yet been made in connection with the murder. Press freedom organizations such as Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have expressed grave concern that this was a targeted assassination. The concern is wholly reasonable — Mr. Hussein-Suale and colleagues involved in the investigation of Mr. Nyantakyi came under heavy personal attack when they disclosed their findings in mid-2018, including from a member of the Ghanaian parliament. That member, Kennedy Agyapong, took to the screen on his own television station and disgraced himself by outrageously encouraging violence against the journalist, offering to pay personally for such violence, disclosing Mr. Hussein-Suale’s whereabouts, and publishing photographs of the undercover journalist live on screen.

The professional execution-style slaying of Mr. Hussein-Suale in the aftermath of Mr. Agyapong’s disgraceful threats raises serious and credible suspicions about the circumstances of this murder.

We cannot allow the voices of truth to be muffled by those who would benefit from silence and deceit. Our cherished American principles of freedom of the press necessitate a prompt and thorough investigation.

I therefore respectfully request the Department to take the following actions:

1.         Assess the potential scope of U.S. diplomatic, law enforcement, and intelligence support for the Government of Ghana’s investigation of Mr. Hussein-Suale’s death, including potential Federal Bureau of Investigation support via the Office of the Legal Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Accra;

2.         Conduct an independent assessment of the murder and the quality and scope of the Ghanaian government’s investigation; and

3.         Determine what sanctions may be levied against Kennedy Agyapong MP, including a ban on travel to the U.S., a ban on access to the U.S. banking system for Mr. Agyapong and his businesses, and any other appropriate and applicable sanctions.

Please respond to my office within 30 days of receipt of this letter. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. 

Member of Congress

Source:Congress.gov

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