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Youth party leader orders dismissal of radio journalist Gibril Gorttor

(MFWA/IFEX) - In a 20 January 2009 letter, the chairman of the youth wing of the ruling All People's Congress (APC) in the District of Kambia in northern Sierra Leone, Sorieba Yillah, ordered the dismissal of Gibril Gorttor, a reporter for Kollenten 92.4 FM, a community radio station in the area, for his alleged critical reports on party activities.

The letter addressed to the chairman of the radio station's Board described the journalist as a rascal, warning him never to show his face on the station's premises and that if he flouted the directive, he would surely be "molested and manhandled".

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)'s correspondent reported that the party's youth leader also followed up the letter with verbal threats against the station, threatening he would beat up the journalist, if he goes to the station.

The correspondent said that although the letter failed to spell out any crime committed by the reporter, he has attributed his predicament to stories he had recently filed.

Gorttor said that on 19 January, he reported on Kollenten 92.4 FM the misuse of a vehicle belonging to the District hospital by the APC functionaries. Three days earlier, on 16 January, he filed another story linking the district APC youth leader to a supply of fake drugs to the District hospital.

"To me these are the crimes I have committed, I am now not sure of my safety in the district. All I need now is protection", Gorttor told the correspondent. Meanwhile, the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) in a release condemned the action against the journalist. "We consider this a threat to the safety and security of the journalist who was merely doing his job".

SLAJ is demanding disciplinary action against the APC youth leader.

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