State protests arrest, while second diplomat expelled for similar
WASHINGTON, D.C.–The U.S. State Department said in late May that a diplomat will ask Yasser Arafat to release a Palestinian-American journalist detained after broadcasting live from the Palestinian legislative council. Also in late May, a different U.S. diplomat was expelled from Ghana for intervening on behalf of journalists on trial in that country.
Journalist Daoud Kuttab was detained in late May on direct orders of the Palestinian leader, the Associated Press reported. The U.S. consul general in Jerusalem, Edward Abington, in late May was attempting to arrange a meeting with Arafat to secure Kuttab’s release, according to consulate spokesman Duncan MacInnes. For the past month, Kuttab has been broadcasting live sessions of the Palestinian legislature on educational television, according to AP reports.
In Ghana, the U.S. Embassy said it took “strong exception” to an order issued in late May expelling the director of the United States Information Service, Nicholas Robertson. Ghanaian officials complained that Robertson engaged in “highly provocative actions” by threatening the country with diplomatic sanctions after the minister of information refused to help get charges dropped against the editors of several weekly Ghanaian newspapers. A ministry official told AP that he considered the threat to be blackmail.
The editors had been charged with criminal libel for publishing allegations in 1996 that Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings was involved in drug trafficking, and had used the proceeds to buy weapons.
The information minister told the Associated Press that U.S. Ambassador Edward Brynn had told him the ambassador did not authorize Robertson’s activities. But in a statement issued by the embassy, Brynn said that he was unhappy that Robertson was asked to leave and that the views he expressed were those of the United States.