News editor suspended over ‘Aspagarus’

Local radio station Yarona FM news  editor, Oteng Chilume, was yesterday suspended  following the airing of a story on alleged  hackers  ‘Aspagarus’ on  Friday. According to sources, Chilume, together with assignment editor,  Kaombona Kanani, were handed their suspension letters on Monday afternoon for having disclosed the name of a prominent individual deriving from a source whose credibility was suspect thereby defamatory.

The source explained that the station management  argued that the concerned individual was also  not given the right to reply before the story was aired.
Furthermore,   a heated argument is said to have ensued between Chilume and the management after  a statement  of retraction was issued by the board of directors without his involvement as the news editor. Chilume felt he should have been involved to give an editorial perspective to the retraction statement and management refused, a source said. Chilume was arguing for editorial independence.   The radio station has since retracted the story and apologized for the story headlined “Hacking group threatens to reveal statehouse secrets and shut down DIS,” and was aired on the 7am and 8am news bulletins.

Reached for comment, both  Chilume  and Kanani could not deny nor confirm their  suspensions, instead referring this reporter to the station manager.
The  suspensions have since  been confirmed by  the Station Manager David Moepeng  although he could not  divulge the names of the suspended employees. “ Two of our employees have been  suspended for  airing a story in the news that we  believe did not follow proper journalistic ethics and principles. The suspension will run until investigations are completed,”  he said.

The radio station has since retracted the story. The retraction states that the contents bulletin  were “not in line  with community standards, were against journalistic code of conduct, did not represent our culture and implied that Yarona FM is disrespectful and  irresponsible.”

The group Aspagarus  became popular on social media after  claiming to have hacked the  Directorate of Intelligence and Security ( DIS ) system  which they said had total control of the system  and that they heard  what the DIS boss heard as well as what he was  seeing.  They shared a list of what they said were  names  and  ID numbers of some DIS  personnel.  The hackers expressed how they were irked by the DIS boss and his subordinates for having messed up the country.  The group further claimed to be in possession of nude pictures of some individuals at the State House which they threatened to share  on social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram.