The ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) says it is disappointed that the main opposition New National Party (NNP) of Dr. Keith Mitchell would continue with the old policy of threatening to bring lawsuits in order to try and muzzle the local media.
NDC Public Relations Officer (PRO) Glen Noel told members of the media last week Thursday at a Press Conference that his party and government have always championed the cause for the freedom of the press and are very concerned about the threat to freedom of the press from the NNP.
Noel said Congress has become aware that many media houses have received “a very threatening letter” from the NNP asking them to retract a story that they reported about its campaign being allegedly financed by the Russian Mafia.
At the NDC’s campaign rally two weeks ago at the Roy St. John Playing Field at Tanteen, senior member of the party, Vincent Roberts alleged that the Russians are reportedly financing the NNP’s campaign to the tune of $10m.
According to Noel, the media houses that carried the item have been asked to retract the story or face the consequence of a lawsuit.
Noel views the threats as intimidation of the media on the part of the main opposition.
“it is interesting that in the midst of this campaign, certainly it is to intimidate the media so that the voice that the NDC has (it) will not continue to have it,” he said.
“This is a matter for national concern and it is a matter of national interest,” he added.
The NNP threat is believed to be directed mainly at MTV and Voice of Grenada, the media outlet owned by the Maitland family.
Well-placed sources told THE NEW TODAY that the management of the media entity have since urged employees to lessen on the coverage given to NDC during Campaign 2013.
Noel recalled that the NDC Government of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas had taken the bold step to repeal criminal libel ensuring that journalists no longer face the threat of being imprisoned for their work.
He charged that the two major political parties in Grenada clearly have different core values when it comes to freedom of the press.
NDC’s Campaign Spokesperson, Faye Thompson who joined Noel at the Press Conference indicated that the incumbent political party is subscribing to the code of conduct as worked out by Civil society groupings and all that is said on the campaign trail would be within limits.
Thompson expressed the hope that the Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG) will view the NNP’s action as being an attack on press freedom.
The association, headed by Rawle Titus, has not issued a public comment on the issue.
According to Thompson, the NDC is appalled that the NNP which is vying to return to Office has not seemingly learnt from the errors of the past and refrain from going down the same road of intimidation of the media.
During his 13-year stint of Prime Minister of the country, Dr. Mitchell brought several lawsuits against members of the media profession.
Thompson said she is baffled over why the NNP is objecting to the allegation that the Russians are funding its campaign when, sometime last year, its own Political Leader stated that his party only had $500.00 in its bank account.
“Yet we’re seeing a glitzy campaign (by the NNP),” she said.
Thompson disclosed that the NDC campaign is now in full flight with the party having a series of public rallies leading up to the February 19 date for the poll.