Abuja, July 1, 2021 – Liberian authorities should investigate the threats received by journalist Aryee Davis and ensure that she can work safely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
In mid-June, a Facebook user named “Gedeh Eagleeyes” sent multiple threatening messages to Davis, founder of the Facebook-based news outlet GrainCost TV, and posted threatening comments on one of her articles, according to the journalist, who spoke to CPJ by phone and messaging app, and shared screenshots of the threats.
In one of the messages, the user said they had “picked up all necessary information about you; where you live, your children, friends and your every move… You can’t and won’t escape the prey and wrath of Gedeh Eagles.”
Davis told CPJ that the threats prompted her to leave her home in Paynesville, a suburb of Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, on June 24. She filed a written complaint to police about the threats, which CPJ reviewed, on June 25.
“Liberian authorities should investigate the threats made to journalist Aryee Davis and ensure that she is able to work without fear,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, in New York. “Online harassment of the media, particularly of female journalists, is a press freedom issue that must be taken seriously.”
Davis said the threats related to GrainCost TV’s coverage of alleged fraud by Alex Chersia Grant, a congressman representing Liberia’s Grand Gedeh county. Davis told CPJ that she wrote two reports in May and June about Grant’s alleged use of a forged certificate from Nigeria’s western University of Ibadan.
In a June 21 comment on GrainCost TV’s article on Grant, Gedeh Eagleeyes wrote, “Liberian Journalist who chose to be used by a failed politician to attacked [sic] the Honorable Rep, will suffers [sic] the prey of Gedeh Eagle. Watch Out!!”
In a message sent to Davis that day, the account also accused her of trying to “bring the honourable man to criticism” for political purposes.
Reached by phone on June 29, a spokesperson for the Liberia National Police, Moses Carter, told CPJ that he was not aware of the threats and would look into the matter.
On June 23, the Press Union of Liberia posted a statement on their Facebook page warning “the unscrupulous individuals involved to immediately desist” in making the threats.
In a written statement reviewed by CPJ, Grant’s office responded to the Press Union’s statement denying any knowledge of the Gedeh Eagleeyes account, but also alleged that Davis was being used by politicians to blackmail Grant.
Reached by phone yesterday, Grant told CPJ that he did not know anything about the Gedeh Eagleeyes account and reiterated the claim that the articles written about him by Davis were politically motivated.