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.