Publisher seeks dismissal of espionage charges
WASHINGTON, D.C.–A Cameroon national charged in 1993 with conspiracy to possess and communicate national defense documents in violation of federal law asked a federal court to dismiss the indictment in late December, in part because he was gathering and disseminating the information in the course of his journalistic activities.
According to the motion to dismiss, Dr. Dominic Ntube, a permanent resident alien living in Washington, D.C., publishes The Continent, a monthly newspaper devoted to African affairs. Ntube also claims to have written articles for other publications, such as the African Sun and the African Business and Economic Review, and to have held press credentials with various entities, including the United Nations and the World Bank.
Geneva Jones, a State Department employee, pleaded guilty in November 1994 to providing classified documents to Ntube and several other individuals. At her sentencing hearing, Jones stated that she leaked the documents to Ntube because she wanted “positive information coming out on the continent of Africa that [she] didn’t see in the media.”
The government disputes Ntube’s status as a journalist, stating that at the time of his arrest, The Continent had not been published for over thirteen months, although it was purportedly a monthly publication. Ntube claims that before his arrest he was working on a special edition of The Continent, to be released in September 1993 to coincide with the African Cultural Festival.
The government further asserts that even if Ntube is a journalist, his offenses are unrelated to journalistic activities. For example, the government claims that classified U.S. documents about the Liberian civil war were discovered in the former headquarters of Charles Taylor in Liberia, accompanied by a facsimile cover sheet from an organization that Ntube chairs. The government also states that Ntube received documents from Jones that were “far afield from anything ever published in The Continent,” such as information on “traditional U.S. adversaries such as Iran, Cuba, the Soviet Union and Libya,” as well as Latin American countries and Saudi Arabia.
Ntube’s case is pending before Judge Harold Greene in federal court in the District of Columbia. All filings in connection with the motion to dismiss are due by early March. (United States v. Ntube; Media Counsel: David Lubitz, Washington, D.C.)