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Liberian Government Denies Spying on Liberians in Diaspora

Is the Liberian Embassy in Washington spying on Liberians in the United States in a hunt for so-called coup plotters? Well an email has surfaced purportedly written by the first secretary for political affairs at the embassy, Christopher Nippy, to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in which he identifies certain Liberians, including former presidential candidate Winston Tubman of plotting to overthrow President Sirleaf’s government.

The alleged author of the purported email was not immediately available for comment. But in Monrovia, the Sirleaf government said it is not spying on Liberians inside Liberia or in the Diaspora.

Meanwhile, the Minister Counselor for information at the Liberian Embassy, Samuel Abu, said he has been accused of passing the information to journalists, and that the government wants him recalled. Abu told VOA that there is a calculated plan by Ambassador Charles Minor to get rid of him.

“On August 2nd of this year, he did call me in the office in the presence of other staff accusing me that I am always taking government information and giving it out to the enemies of the government. And the latest of it was yesterday when he again called me and told me that the news that was on FrontPage Africa (a Liberian Website based in the US) that Mr. Nippy did write a letter implicating several prominent Liberians into an attempt unseat our government. He said I was the one who gave this information to FrontPage. And I easily told him that he was out to destroy me. And the next thing he had to tell me was that he will make sure that I get out of here and he will buy me a one-way ticket to Monrovia where I will be investigated for espionage,” he said.

Abu said he will not return to Liberia because he fears for his life given what he said has been happening in Liberia recently.

“I know what is going on in Liberia and with the kind of things happening, I’m afraid for my life. I understand from last night Mr. Minor and Christopher Nippy, the first secretary for political affairs were out two Homeland Security people who are always visiting our office. They were together trying to find a way where my immunities can be taken away so that they can have me arrested and bundled to Monrovia where I am going to be tortured because they say I am the one giving government information out to the press,” Abu said.

He said Christopher Nippy, the alleged author of the purported email has a history of spying on people.

“Mr. Christopher is the first secretary for political affairs. He has always been the one who every movement that I make he goes to the ambassador and tell the ambassador Mr. Abu has gone this place, Mr. Abu has done this. And the ambassador takes this news from him. So I cannot easily say that it is not true that Mr. Nippy did write that letter because he did write that letter because I heard that news before. And I did protest to him that that is not the function that we are at the embassy for. We are here to promote political activities between our government and the U.S. government. But he goes around and brings information, and he’s almost like a security on everybody,” he said.

Abu said it would be difficult for Nippy to deny he wrote the alleged email.

“It is left with Mr. Nippy to admit that he did because according to that email it came directly from the Website, and Mr. Nippy that is his address that was assigned him by the embassy, and he wrote this letter to the ambassador on his AOL address. So it’s difficult for Mr. Nippy to say that he did not write it. He is aware of that letter because he is always doing it,” Abu said.

Abu said he has made several attempts to speak with President Sirleaf during her visits to the United States. But he said Ambassador Minor has made it difficult for even the embassy staff to speak with the president.

“He would not allow anyone to go closer to the president. Even the itinerary of the president, no member of the diplomatic staff is aware of it. We normally do not even know when the president is coming. We have to get information from other sources,” Abu said.

The alleged author of the purported email was not immediately available for comment. But in Monrovia, Deputy Information Minister Gabriel Williams said the government is not spying on Liberians inside Liberia or in the Diaspora.

“I saw reported in one of local dailies today some email purportedly coming from the Liberian Embassy. Anything that comes from the Internet doesn’t mean that it is correct. I have not check the veracity of this thing. I just heard about it yesterday, and I’m not sure for certain that this is accurate or not. But the fact of the matter is we are not here running an evil empire any more. We’re trying to fix a broken system; we are trying to move from the days of tyranny when Liberians were falsely accused of overthrowing a government simply because you belong to an opposition party or simply because you did not subscribe to the ideas of the government or you’re opposed to the president. So absolutely there is no reason for any Liberia, whether here in Liberia or in the Diaspora to fear to come here to your own country. And those who are spreading these news are evil people who are trying to make this country to appear as a country that has not moved from our evil past,” Williams said.