WILMOT SMITH CLARIFIES SPOON NETWORK SHUTDOWN SAGA

By: Washington Tumay Watson -onewash@gmail.com

MONROVIA-The former Deputy Director General of the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-information Services (LISGIS), Wilmot Smith has clarified that the Liberian Government is not a part of the shutting down of the Spoon network as has been insinuated in the public.

Mr. Smith told the media Monday that he filed two libel suits against the Chief Executive Officer of the Spoon Media Network, Stanton Witherspoon and that of the Spoon Network as a private citizen.

Speaking on Freedom FM Monday, July 17, 2023, the former Deputy LISGIS boss indicated that he works with international partners to conduct the census which was successful stressing that the international partners agreed that the census meet international standards but acceded to international standards.

According to him, with such a level of accomplishment both LISGIS and the partners during the census have provided the kind of work that was done noting that he respects the presidential prerogative.

“We are determined to ensure that for prosperity the record will show that all we did at LISGIS was to ensure that Liberia achieved its first digital census,” he said.

He further disclosed that the damage cost around US$3.5 million because of two defendants in the case.

Mr. Smith said it is vital for people to understand the legal matter and not politicize the case because of ignorance.

He also urged the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) to welcome the democratic process of the legal matter which is part of democracy noting that the PUL did not consider the injury of a private citizen by the media institution.

It can be recorded that the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) issue a press release strongly denouncing the recent order by the Civil Law Court to shut down Spoon Network Incorporated, considering it a direct infringement on freedom of expression and the free press.

In the release, PUL views the action as arbitrary, intimidating, and an attack on the fundamental principles of democracy.

According to the PUL, the court decision undermines democratic values and the significant progress made by governments to uphold the rights to freedom of expression and free speech. Such actions hinder the development of an open and transparent society.

In its official statement, the Press Union vehemently condemned the closure of the Spoon Network, describing it as a barbaric and harsh decision that seems to carry the venom of a politically exposed person. The PUL firmly believes that this matter should be treated as a civil issue and not a criminal one, highlighting the need for a judicial approach rather than a political one.

The Union insists that the action to issue a writ on a broadcaster with an attachment order is clearly to get it off the air and has absolutely nothing to do with the merits of the case. This action, the PUL says, is an intentional closure of Spoon Network, intending to damage its standard and lower its rating by the time the ban is lifted.

The Press Union of Liberia urges the relevant authorities, including the civil law court, to reconsider their decision and reinstate the operations of Spoon Network Incorporated.

The closure of Spoon Network is aimed at stifling the freedom of the press, especially in a country where the press is only partially free, according to freedom trackers. The closure of Spoon Network by the courts suggests a deliberate attempt to restrict or suppress the press, which is a fundamental pillar of a democratic society.

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