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Sports journalist assaulted by football coach, threatened by team administrator, after exposing their salaries

(CEMESP/IFEX) - On 18 June 2007, sports journalist Julu Johnson of the "Independent News" newspaper in Monrovia was attacked and assaulted by the head coach of Liberia's National Football team, Frank Jericho Nagbe.

Johnson was attacked for publishing an article which states that the football coach was earning a salary of US$650 per month.

Johnson told CEMESP that around 6:00 a.m. (local time) on 18 June, following Liberia's goal-less home draw match against Equatorial Guinea, the coach, accompanied by his aide George Doe, stormed Johnson's West Point community residence and assaulted him.

The coach remarked that Johnson, who is also Secretary General of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia, had published his salary on the Internet. He argued that his salary is private and that the journalist had no business publishing it.

After neighbours of the journalist went to his rescue, coach Nagbe left the scene, but with a threat to later "unleash his boys" on Johnson wherever he is spotted.

On 17 June, a day before the attack, Johnson also received a threat from the administrative manager of Liberia's National Football team, Benedict Wreh. Wreh threatened to take action against the journalist for publishing his US$400 monthly salary.

Johnson told CEMESP that the two men in question are public servants who are paid with taxpayers' money and therefore the publication of their salaries is not an invasion of privacy, as they claim.

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