Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
Mr. Rickford Burke, President of the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) is accusing the Guyana Police Force (GPF) of “‘try[ing]’ to associate” his “name with a scandal to give the public the impression” he “was involved in something unlawful.”
The President of the United States (U.S)-based organisation, in a blistering statement accused the Force of issuing a “statement riddled with falsehoods and wild conjectures” with the intent “to slander” him. The statement referred to, according to the Police, was taken on 25th September from Mr. Marlon Gary Eleazar, journalist.
In that statement, Burke, along with Eleazar and Mr. Alex Wayne are implicated in the publishing of information in the online Guyana News Network (GNN) to extort money from a businessman on behalf of another businessman.
On Tuesday Eleazar and Wayne appeared before Senior Magistrate Fabayo Azore, at the Cove and John Magistrate’s Court, to answer charges of conspiracy to commit a felony. The two pleaded not guilty and were each released on $200,000 bail.
According to the charge, between August 27 and September 23, 2022, at Lusignan, East Coast Demerara, the men conspired together with others to publish defamatory libel against Mr. Afraz Mohamed with a view to extort the sum of $150,000.
The second charge alleged the pair, during the period in question, conspired with others and offered to abstain from publishing defamatory libel against Mohamed with a view to extort the sum of $150,00 from him.
According to the Police’s statement “Eleazar also said that he had access to the GNN website for over a year, and was given the website’s password and username by Rickford Burke to manage the website, and he subsequently uploaded about five articles to the site.”
Burke, in response, said he lives in the U.S and the named persons who live in Guyana have never been in his presence. “I have never seen them in my life. None of them has ever spoken to me about an article about a businessman evading taxes. One I have never heard of before!”
To the allegations in the police’s statement that he plays a role in the news outlet and edited the articles under question, Burke said “the claim is false, but even if I did, publishing a news story in a news outlet, which exposes corruption, is neither a crime nor untoward conduct, even if it makes certain powerful people feel exposed and embarrassed.”
Burke denied managing the news site, but said even if he does, so what? He alluded to the fact he lives in the U.S and the country’s constitution guarantees the inalienable right of free speech, freedom of association, which he said is not only a foremost constitutional right but a fundamental pillar of America’s democracy.
He also shared the view that he is being implicated by the Force for exposing corruption and wrongdoings in the Guyana Government and Force. Flatly he stated, “the GPF has no jurisdiction over my speech or affiliations, and never will.”
Burke and the Force have had repeated encounters over policing and public accountability. In 2021 the Police issued a Wanted Bulletin for him alledging he was inciting racial hostility, public terror.