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"Public Agenda" newspaper facing two lawsuits

(CEMESP/IFEX) - The Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization, Chris Massaquoi, his cousin, Eugene Massaquoi, and a Korean national, Oh Zoo Kwak, have filed a libel lawsuit, with the sixth judiciary for Montserrado County, against "Public Agenda", Liberia's most critical newspaper. They are seeking damages.

The managing editor of "Public Agenda", Lyndon Ponnie, told CEMESP that while lawyers representing the newspaper were preparing to respond to the suit, another lawsuit for criminal coercion was filed by Eugene Massaquoi and Oh Zoo Kwak at the Monrovia City Court.

The two lawsuits are in connection with a front-page story published in "Public Agenda" indicating that Eugene Massaquoi and Oh Zoo Kwak had conspired to swindle some Koreans out of almost US$3 million.

On 12 December 2009, the Monrovia City Court failed to hear the complaint of criminal coercion against "Public Agenda", due to the absence from the court of Attorney Cyrenius Cephas, the newspaper's lawyer.

Cephas, who is also the publisher of the "Plain Truth" newspaper, was detained and interrogated by National Security authorities in connection with a publication in his paper alleging that the Liberian Government is supporting Guinean dissidents in overthrowing the military junta in Guinea.

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