BBC’s Paye-Layleh Surfaces in the United States

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Jonathan Paye-Layleh, BBC correspondent in Liberia

An insecure Jonathan Paye-Layleh has reportedly left Liberia and is said to have surfaced in the city of New York, United States. The BBC and Associated Press reporter has since expressed fears for his life after President George Manneh Weah accused him of having been against him (Weah) and his advocacy for human rights during the Liberian civil war, long before he contested and won the presidency.

According to Airport and other sources, a weary Paye-Layleh was sported at the RIA leaving the country.

The President’s statement was not received well and political observers saw an ominous sign suggesting that the statement was tantamount to a threat on the journalist’s life. Mr. Paye-Layleh, in an open letter appealed to Mrs. Clar Weah and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor and the Press Union of Liberia to seek clarity from the president, since it was never reported before the country’s long-running war that President Weah was involved in any advocacy for human rights that anyone, particularly a journalist objected to.

President Weah made the accusation against the journalist during a Press Stakeout at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the presence of Madam Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The BBC stringer had asked a question relating to the civil war, which killed thousands of Liberians, as to whether President Weah and the United Nations were willing to support the setting up of a world crimes court as requested of the President by Human Rights Watch, to create an avenue for victims of the Liberian wars to face their alleged perpetrators.

Rather than answer the question, the president accused Paye-Layleh of perpetually not being in favor of his role as a human rights activist  during the war years in Liberia. In an apparent attempt to provide clarity to what President Weah might have actually intended to say to the journalist. However  the Executive Mansion in a release apparently compounded the journalist’s fears when it said Mr. Paye Layleh had done something wrong to the President in the past.

“The Office of the President clarifies that as a long-time champion of human rights and an ardent advocate of peace and social justice, he only sought to remind Mr. Paye Layleh during his response to question asked, that when he was advocating for justice and creating awareness of the gross human rights violations that were being perpetrated against the Liberian people during the fourteen years civil conflict, he (Paye-Layleh) and others were bent on undermining his efforts by depicting a positive image of the carnage,” an Executive Mansion release said.

But Mr. Paye-Layleh fears that these comments from the pinnacle of authority in the country have dire implications for his life especially considering the popularity of the President who allegedly has thousands of ardent followers some of whom could take matters into their own hands and bring harm to his life because the President had indicated Paye-Layleh was not in his favor.

The situation according to observers, was reminiscent of two disappearances that took place during the  administration of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, involving the mysterious deaths of the late Cllr. Michael Allison and Harry Greaves  whose bodies were found on the beach near the Atlantic Ocean. Although foul play ws suspected in both cases, the Liberia National Police however attributed their deaths to drowning  ruled out any suggestions that the men had been surreptitiously killed.

Reliable sources told the Daily Observer that the renowned journalist departed Liberia on Sunday night through the Roberts International Airport.

He had earlier attended a church service during which the congregation prayed for him after he had explained to the congregation the situation between him and President George Weah growing out of the March 22 press stakeout at the Foreign Ministry.

The purpose of his trip remains unclear, but observers hold the view that the BBC and The Associated Press correspondent may probably bee seeking asylum in the United States of America owing to statements by President Weah accusing him of being an adversary.

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