The International Press Institute (IPI) has joined the chorus of criticisms directed at the chairman of Television Jamaica, Milton Samuda, over allegations that he confiscated the recordings of two reporters following an interview with two of the country's top athletes.
In a letter to the chairman of the RJR Communications Group, Lester Spaulding, IPI, the global network group of editors and media executives, said it was surprised and saddened by what it called a blatant act of intimidation.
"I write to express my profound concern regarding allegations of an egregious attack on press freedom perpetrated by Television Jamaica Limited board chairman Milton Samuda," IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie wrote.
DENIED SEIZING RECORDINGS
Samuda, who is one of the attorneys for the two athletes - Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson - has denied demanding video recording of the interview conducted at his office last month
He said the recordings were turned over by the journalists who agreed that they had breached a verbal agreement to only ask those questions that were previously agreed on.
However, this explanation apparently did not sit well with McKenzie, who told Spaulding it should be made clear that "the very idea of deciding which questions journalists can and cannot ask is, at its very essence, censorship".
She insisted: "We believe that such actions are inappropriate for a director at Jamaica's second-largest media company."
The IPI executive director said media leaders must be held to the same standards as government officials who would seek to stifle the media and "silence the voices of democracy".