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Death threats made against Trinidad reporter
Published on May 23, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Caribbean News Now contributor

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad -- Threats have recently been made against CCN TV6 senior investigative journalist Mark Bassant’s life by underworld criminal elements in Trinidad. According to top national security sources, these elements want the journalist dead, as they believe that several of the pieces Bassant has done recently were “showing them up”, the Trinidad Express reported.

“On May 7, I got a call from a very reliable underworld source that certain criminal elements wanted to harm me because of stories I wrote recently that were showing them up.

“I made a report on it. The next day I was liaising with certain police officers involved in a specific investigation, only to later learn from other trusted sources that these same officers who I had spoken to earlier were leaking information about me and what I knew to the said individuals who organised for my demise.

“I informed a high-ranking intelligence source along with another trusted senior intelligence officer about this development,” Bassant said.

“The senior intelligence office later conferred to me in a face-to-face meeting on May 9 that my name was on a hit list together with other persons. In fact, he told me that they had already been given the order to engage the targets, including me, and that the hit against me was starting at $20,000,” he explained.

The intelligence source then advised Bassant to take certain precautionary measures, including having 24-hour security available to him. Bassant then advised management at CCN about the developments and they worked together to have Bassant stay at various locations as an insurance for his safety.

“This entire situation has me angry that journalists, who work on behalf of the people, can be threatened like this. And based on the calibre of people involved, in my opinion it is also a frightening indictment on our law-enforcement agency in this country,” Bassant said.

In brief interviews with CCN TV6, both National Security Minister Gary Griffith and acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams confirmed they had received reports death threats had been made against Bassant.

The Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago said in a statement that it views with great concern alleged threats on Bassant’s life.

“MATT wishes to remind the country that a free and fair press and one that is free from fear is crucial to the functioning of a democracy and all institutions and right thinking members of the society should also condemn any threat or attack on members of the media. These threats can result in a journalist operating under fear which weakens the role of the fourth estate as a watchdog,” the association said.

MATT added that it hopes the police will investigate this matter with the urgency and diligence required and if proven true, brings to heel those who would seek harm or injure journalists for performing their duties.
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