General News of Tuesday, 18 November 2003
The National Reconciliation Commission has been asked to seek clearance from the United States Government if it wants the truth behind the Michael Soussoudis Spy Swap. Former Minister for Regional Integration, Kwamena Ahwoi who made the call said he would only testify if the U.S Government gives the go ahead because the issue borders on National Security of both countries.
Mr. Ahwoi was reacting to the testimonies of Major (Rtd) John Awuah who appeared before the Commission and recounted how he and seven Ghanaians were stripped off their nationality.
At the time of the incident in 1985, Mr. Ahwoi was the Chairman of the Citizens Vetting Committee under the erstwhile PNDC regime. When Major (Rtd) John Awuah appeared before the commission, he accused the PNDC regime of ill treatment and unlawful release from the Ghana Armed Forces.
He also told the NRC that the then PNDC Secretary for Local Government, Kwamena Ahwoi, quizzed and accused him of being an agent for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Addressing the media on Tuesday, Mr. Ahwoi said the testimonies of Major (rtd) Awuah are far from the truth, but rather a perversion of the truth.
He explained that his decision not to testify or reply to the NRC’s inquisitions is because in 1985, the PNDC government entered into a bilateral agreement with the US government to exchange a Ghanaian, Michael Soussoudis accused of being a spy, for people the US government described as its contacts in Ghana.
Narrating the sequence of events, Ahwoi said in 1985, a USA CIA officer in the US Embassy in Accra, Ms Susan Scranage was recalled by her home Government upon suspicion that she had leaked secret CIA information to the Ghana Government.
“Back in the USA, Ms Scranage was interrogated and made to undergo a lie detector test. She admitted to having become the lover of Michael Soussoudis, a Ghanaian national and cousin of then PNDC Chairman Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings and having revealed to him the names of Ghanaian CIA agents spying for the American government".
"Ms Scranage was used as a decoy to lure Michael Soussoudis to the USA, whereupon he was arrested as a Ghanaian spying against US interests, interrogated and put on trial. Meanwhile, four of the alleged Ghanaian CIA spies had also been arrested in Ghana and put on trial before the Public Tribunal".
In the course of the trial, the US Government sent down a list of ‘Ghanaians CIA contacts’ as they call them, and their relatives, and offered to negotiate a “spy swap” between Michael Soussoudis and the persons on their list of “Ghanaian CIA contacts”
He said Major Awuah accepted to be repatriated to the US on his own volition and was not forced to do so as he presented the picture to the NRC. “It was this exchange that subsequently became known as the ‘Soussoudis Spy Swap’.” According to Mr Ahwoi, several of the persons on the US “spy list” refused to be part of the exchange because they insisted that they were not spies for the USA.
Mr Ahwoi explained that though he had informed the NRC that he could not divulge any information concerning the Soussoudis Spy Swap, he is ever ready to present himself to the Commission to tell Ghanaians the truth about the matter only if the US government agrees to the Commission’s request.
“I would therefore entreat the Commission in the interest of Ghana-USA bilateral relations to seek the consent of the USA authorities to enable me respond fully. I am ready and willing to respond fully to the petition once the USA authorities have consented to a public disclosure of the 1985 agreement on the exchange of the “CIA contacts” and the named Ghanaian national”.