Publishers of Cayman Islands newspaper flee country after premier describes editorial as treasonous

david and vicki legge

David and Vicki Legge in a December 2014 file photo. (Photo: Edie Bassen/Epoch Times)

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands, Wednesday June 10, 2015 – The publishers of Cayman Islands’ sole daily newspaper have reportedly fled the country because they were afraid for their safety, after premier Alden McLaughlin described an editorial in the publication as treasonous.

While the Cayman Compass continues to publish, David and Vicki Legge are now in the United States.

They flew out of the country on Saturday, a day after the governor of the Cayman Islands provided them with police protection from the previous night.

Last Wednesday, the Cayman Compass published an editorial entitled ‘Corruption: An insidious, creeping crime’ which referred to the FIFA scandal and acts of corruption in the territory. It said corruption was “commonplace” in the Cayman Islands. Caymanian Jeffrey Web, FIFA’s vice-president, is among the 14 people charged in connection with corruption at football’s world governing body.

Read the controversial editorial here.

McLaughlin responded to the editorial during a meeting of the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee last Friday, saying it was not only “reckless”, but “must be interpreted as a treasonous attack on the Cayman Islands and on all the people of Cayman”.

The premier said the editorial was “a direct attack on everyone who lives here, who works here, who invests here, who has a business here, who serves on public boards, who works in the public sector, who works in financial services, who works in tourism, and it is a full frontal assault on the many businesses which pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Cayman Compass every year in advertising fees”.

“In the words of the great country music artist Merle Haggard, ‘When you’re running down my country, man, you’re walking on the fighting side of me’,” McLaughlin added.

In an interview with the New York Times on Monday, Legge said: “We believed he created such an atmosphere that we needed protection.”

Legge also told The Washington Post, where he once worked, that McLaughlin had put a target on his and his wife’s back.

The legislature has voted to stop all government spending money on advertising or “any other commercial activity by ministries, portfolios, departments, government entities, government-owned companies and statutory authorities with the Cayman Compass, its parent company, if any, and its affiliates”.

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