Liberia threatens journalist with legal action
Journalist Mads Brügger got away with tricking his way into North Korea under the guise of leading a troupe of performers in order to shoot his critically acclaimed documentary, 'The Red Chapel', about the secretive state.
But his venture to the Central African Republic (CAR) has not gone unnoticed by the Liberian government which is now launching legal action against him for buying a Liberian diplomatic passport.
Brügger used the passport, which was purchased illegally through corrupt officials, to enter the CAR under the false premise of setting up a matchstick factory, though his actual goal was to track down so-called ‘blood diamonds’.
The subsequent documentary, 'The Ambassador', released last year, exposed widespread corruption in west and central Africa.
In announcing it was launching criminal proceedings against Brügger, the Liberian government called his actions “not only immoral but also criminal and offensive to the government and people of Liberia”.
“The Government of Liberia has learned, with grave consternation, of a film documentary in which Danish Journalist Mads Johan Brugger Cortzen [as he named himself in the documentary] presents himself as a Liberian diplomat with the title of Consul General and Ambassador-At-Large accredited to the Central African Republic (CAR),” an official press release stated.
“Mr. Cortzen admits that he fraudulently purchased a Liberian diplomatic position and passport for US$150,000.00 through a network that allegedly advertises and unauthorizingly [sic] sells diplomatic positions of struggling countries, including Liberia, via the World Wide Web.”
Brügger, who now runs upstart radio station Radio24syv, is currently in New Zealand promoting 'The Ambassador' and told Politiken newspaper that he found the situation peculiar.
“If a journalist from Liberia had exposed that it was possible to bribe the Danish foreign minister and fool the country’s leading corporate lawyer, it would be strange if the Danish state then chose to start legal proceedings against the Liberian journalist,” Brügger said, adding that he had no intention of going to Liberia to defend himself.
“Legal practice and the prison service in Liberia both leave much to be desired. It’s a country where the president’s son is the chairman of the national oil commission even though he knows nothing about oil.”