I have spoken with the modernghana journalists who were picked up and they say they were seriously tortured by operatives of the National Security.
They say they were made to delete two articles they had published about the National Security Minister, Albert Kan Dapaah, after which they were tortured and asked to confess who was behind those articles.
They also say they were slapped and tortured with electric shock and subjected to physical assaults. According to them, the issue about hacking into accounts of competitor media houses did not come up during their detention at the National Security Secretariat.
I have also spoken to very senior sources at the National Security Ministry. They maintain there is evidence that the journalists were hacking emails of other media houses and stealing reports filed by their correspondents.
My national security sources hint the modernghana journalists will be put before the court and the truth may come out. On the issue of the beating and torture, my very senior National Security Source said, "I was not there, but I'm not sure the boys would do that."
It is unclear whether any media house has reported the hacking or that any of its major stories were published by modernghana before the owners of the stories published them.
Those of us in the media and civil society groups must pay serious attention to this case. The truth should, and will come out. For now, it may be too early to tell whose side of the story is true.
From my independent observation and interactions with colleague journalists, however, there appears to be overwhelming concern among journalists that Akufo-Addo's government is about the hostile journalists and critics.
The government appears very intolerant and there appears to be a coordinated attempt to crush those who speak up. My candid view is that the Mahama government was more accommodating of criticism, no matter how scathing, than what we are experiencing now. I was one of the most critical journalists of that regime so I know what I'm talking about.
Whether this observation is looked at as a perception or reality, President Nana Addo Dankwa-Akufo-Addo and his government may want to work on this. Oppression of free speech is one of the worst things Ghanaians can experience under a president who is touted as a human rights champion.
Our democracy has not yielded much dividends besides our freedom to rant about the ills in our body politic. If this is freedom to clear our chests is hampered, then we won't be any better than a military regime.
Incidentally, the Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, is one of the finest journalists this nation has ever seen and it should be an indictment on him if this concern among journalists in Ghana is allowed to fester under his watch.
*Source:Manasseh Azure Awuni*