Politics

US to consider travel and banking sanctions against Kennedy Agyapong over murdered journalist

actions against the Member of Parliament for Assin Central, Kennedy Agyapong, following the murder of investigative journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale.

The consideration of the sanctions follows a letter by a US congressman, Hank Johnson, to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for the American government to sanction the MP over the murder of the journalist and also assist Ghana in unraveling the perpetrators of the crime.

Johnson is convinced Agyapong’s comments that Hussein-Suale should be assaulted and the publication of his pictures on his Net2 Television after the “Number 12” investigation exposed the masked investigative journalist to harm.

“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,” Congressman Johnson said.

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

Hussein-Suale was a member of Tiger Eye Private Investigations, run by renowned Ghanaian journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas.

In 2018, Tiger Eye PI exposed the deep corruption within the Ghanaian Football Association, an investigation that led to the lifetime ban of the former association chief, Kwesi Nyantakyi, and a dissolution of the entire body by the government and FIFA.

Following the investigation, Hussein-Suale’s picture was revealed to the public by Kennedy Agyapong in a documentary he produced titled ‘Who Watches the Watchman’, criticising Anas and his investigative methods.

He called for retribution against Hussein-Suale during a live radio interview and repeatedly threatened Anas.

His comments attracted the attention of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters without Borders, fearing for the life of the journalist whose identity he had revealed.

CPJ also said that Anas and his team had “received threatening anonymous phone calls and been subject to physical surveillance”, adding that Hussein-Suale “was afraid assassins would be hired to kill him.”

He told CPJ, “Indeed, it [has] been hinted in some quarters that the very man who published [my image] said he was doing everything possible to quell [my] existence.”

See the full statement below

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’s murder 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:

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;

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

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

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