March 2, 2007

Special Branch probes journalists


SPECIAL BRANCH police are investigating local and international journalists who have been accredited to cover the ICC Cricket World Cup tournament in Trinidad.

There has been a delay in the handing out of media passes for the tournament because local Special Branch officials have not conducted background checks on individual journalists, photographers and cameramen who applied for the passes.{{more}}

Close to 100 media practiioners have applied for special accreditation for entry to cover the cricket matches scheduled to take place from March 5 to 25. Yesterday, members of the media who applied for the passes turned up at the Accreditation Centre at the Queen’s Park Oval to collect the passes, but they were told that the passes were not available since Special Branch had not yet given clearance for the passes to be released.

Assistant Police Commissioner Randolph Protain, who is one of the coordinators of the security arrangements for the World Cup cricket told Newsday yesterday that Special Branch was still engaged in carrying out security checks with respect to the issuance of the passes.

He gave assurance the passes would be available on Friday at the accreditation centre.

According to Protain, the accreditation centre is not yet fully operational and every effort is being made to have it fully in gear by Friday.

He made it clear that media workers will not be prevented from photographing and interviewing members of the South African team, when they arrive tonight at the Piarco International Airport.

He also revealed that the media will also not be debarred from photographing and interviewing members of the South African team on Thursday when they are engaged in practice session.

Newsday learned that Special Branch has to investigate every media worker who applied for passes to ensure that they do not have a criminal record, are not involved in illicit activities including terrorism, and are not linked to persons with questionable backgrounds.

Once those checks are carried out and the persons are cleared, the passes will be made available.

Since December last year, the applications for accreditation for the ICC World Cup Cricket were sent to Jamaica to be processed. Media workers yesterday described as ridiculous, the last minute rush by Special Branch to carry out background security checks on them.