Anti-government activist, Rickford Burke, who lives in the United State of America (USA) is wanted by the Guyana Police Force (GPF) for questioning in relation to conspiracy to commit a felony of the publication of defamatory libel in order to extort money.
The GPF issued a wanted bulletin for him on Thursday and said that he allegedly committed the offence on August 27. Burke’s last known addresses, according to the wanted bulletin, are Brooklyn, New York, USA and Bartica, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni).
According to Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, a report by a businessman led to a Police investigation which uncovered among other things, that two reporters—Alex Wayne and Gary Eleazar—and Burke are the persons behind the Guyana News Network (GNN), a site that has posted lies and slander targeting opponents of the PNC/APNU+AFC.
On 29th August 2022, the businessman, who is an auto dealer, made a Police report alleging that Guyana News Network (GNN) posted an article on social media (Facebook) with his (businessman) photograph stating that he is involved in illegal activities.
In a statement to the Police, the businessman denied the allegations, stating that it has caused him to be embarrassed and his reputation was tarnished.
In his interview with Police investigators, he said that he was contacted by Wayne and Eleazar, a reporter at Kaieteur News, both of whom are close associates of Dorwain Bess, another businessman with whom he has a dispute.
He said that he was told by Wayne and Eleazar that it was Bess who told them to publish the article. In order to have the article removed the two reporters were demanding $90M, a statement from the Attorney General noted.
As a result of this information, the Police conducted a sting operation on the 23rd of September 2022 on the East Coast of Demerara between 15:40 hours and 16:35hours. The ranks gave the businessman marked cash along with instructions.
Wayne and Eleazar arrived at the location and went to the businessman where they engaged in a conversation.
The two demanded $1M in order to remove the post from the GNN Facebook page. They also told the businessman that Burke is an admin of the site along with them.
The two were intercepted by the cops after they left with the cash. A search was done on the two and ranks found the divided cash on both of them.
Police ranks confiscated two cellular phones and a laptop and further searches were conducted at their homes. A laptop and three hard drives were found at Eleazar’s home.
Wayne admitted during a video and audio-recorded interview that he acted in concert with Bess and Eleazar to create and publish the said post on the GNN Facebook page because Bess and the businessman have an ongoing issue.
Earlier this week, the two reporters were released on $200,000 bail each after they faced two joint charges of conspiracy to commit a felony to which they pleaded not guilty.
It is alleged that Eleazar and Wayne, between August 27 and September 23, at Lusignan, East Coast Demerara (ECD), conspired together and with other persons to publish defamatory libel against Afras Mohammed with a view to extort $150,000 from him.
It is further alleged that the two men between the same dates and at the same location, conspired together and with other persons to offer to abstain from publishing defamatory libel against Mohammed with a view to extort $150,000 from him.
Meanwhile, Bess for whom the GPF issued a wanted bulletin earlier this week, was charged on Thursday with two counts of conspiracy to commit a felony.
Bess, a 45-year-old businessman of Bel Air Park, Georgetown was released on $200,000 bail after he denied both charges. He was ordered to lodge his passport with the court and to report to the Officer in Charge of Major Crimes Investigation Unit or his deputy every Friday beginning from September 30 until the hearing and determination of his trial.
Below is a statement from Rickford Burke who has accused the PPP/C government and Police Force of trying to silence him:
THE PPP GOVERNMENT AND THEIR AGENTS IN THE GUYANA POLICE FORCE WILL HAVE TO KILL ME TO SILENCE ME
Senior officers at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Guyana Police Force have finally finished their plotting with persons in the Attorney General’s Chambers and the DPP’s office, to frame me in the hope that this second wanted bulletin will tarnish my character and reputation.
My Attorneys and I have been in confidential communication with members of the Guyana Police Force all week who have been updating us on a daily basis of the development of the sinister plot and a Guyana Police strategy to “get Rickford Burke,” and silence him, by named members of the Guyana Police Force and a member of the PPP cabinet.
We are aware that all of the questions they asked every person under arrest recently was about Rickford Burke, in an attempt to coerce them to frame me.
This criminal conspiracy has produced yet another wanted bulletin for me for speaking forcefully truth to power against corruption and racism in the Guyana Police Force and the PPP government will not silence me. Nelson Mandella, Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr, and other freedom fighters around the world faced similar repression.
I get my strength from my incomparable and awesome God, and from these incredible heroes. I am therefore undaunted and unmoved by this cowardly act of transnational repression by a government that pretends to be democratic. This abuse by the Police and judicial process in trying to intimidate and smear me will backfire!
The PPP regime and some in the Guyana Police Force are obviously scared of me. They are scared of my advocacy and my influence in the US, Guyana and the Caribbean Region. They are hoping that this second bulletin will criminalize me, diminish my influence and popularity, and silence me. They have severely miscalculated
The PPP government and the minions in the Guyana Police Force will have to carry through with their conspiracy to kill me to silence me!
Prior to the issuance of this bulletin, the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) board briefed our Members of Congress and some members of the Biden Administration about the impending act of transnational repression. We also delivered a brief directly from a senior Police official in Guyana who has expressed shock and disbelief at the abhorrent conspiracy to frame me.
Democracy and the rule of law are under threat in Guyana. Guyana is becoming a very dangerous place for black people and other Guyanese who don’t support the PPP who want to live and survive and to stand up for their rights.
Freedom of speech and protest against the government and Police have been made illegal and the Police and government are using Cybercrime legislation to suppress free speech and the press. CGID and I call on every right-thinking Guyanese to condemn this bulletin and the Police plot to frame me all the way in New York.
We call on all Guyanese at home and in the diaspora to join CGID and I in the struggle for justice and democracy in Guyana and, and to end PPP apartheid governance in Guyana.
CGID and I will continue to stand up for the rights of African Guyanese, the poor and neglected, as well as all East Indians and Amerindians who do not support the PPP and their racist policies and practices, who are being oppressed and subjugated by the apartheid PPP regime.