General News of Monday, 1 December 2003
Source: Raymond Archer (Chronicle)
Documents from The Chronicle’s CIA sources indicate that the imprisonment, denationalization and deportation of the eight Ghanaians to the US in 1985 followed the stunning revelation from Mr. Michael Soussoudis, cousin of Ex-President Rawlings that he passed on intelligence information he obtained from his CIA girlfriend to Ghana’s intelligence agencies then headed by Kojo Tsikata.
The July 12, 1985, edition of the Washington Post also confirmed the story that the CIA’s Operations Support Assistant in Accra called Sharon Scranage had passed classified information including the identities of CIA agents and informants to her flamboyant Ghanaian boyfriend, Michael Soussoudis.
The scandal according to CIA files began when a routine polygraph test on Scranage on her return to the US aroused suspicions. A polygraph is a lie detector used by the CIA to extract information.
Following the failure of her lie detector test, an internal investigation was set up into the matter and Scranage agreed to cooperate with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to entrap and arrest Soussoudis, who was described as a business consultant and a permanent resident of the US.
According to one account sourced to CIA files, “damaging information on CIA intelligence collection activities was passed on to pro-Marxist Kojo Tsikata, Head of Ghanaian Intelligence, by Soussoudis who shared it with Cuba, Libya, East Germany and other Soviet Nations”
A Washington Post story dated July 12, 1985 captioned “CIA AIDE, GHANAIAN FACE SPY COUNTS” Scranage was indicted on 18 counts of providing classified information to a foreign country.
On November 26, 1985, Scranage was said to have pleaded guilty to one count of espionage and two counts of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and was sentenced to five years in prison but her sentence was later reduced to two years.
Soussoudis, who was charged with eight counts of espionage, pleaded not guilty and was also sentenced to 20 years. His sentence too was suspended on the condition that he leaves the US within 24 hours.
At the same time that Soussoudis was sentenced, the alleged Ghanaian CIA agents whose names were given by Scranage were also imprisoned in Ghana.
The investigations revealed that the CIA, through the American government, entered into an agreement with the government of Ghana to release from prison CIA agents imprisoned in Ghana in exchange for Soussoudis.
“In the process the two countries did the following: Ghana stripped its citizens of their nationality and handed them over to America whilst America also cancelled Michael Soussoudis’ permanent residence in the US” an intelligence officer said.
Major John Awuakye, a former Ordinance officer of the Base Ordinance Depot of the Ghana Armed Forces was among the Ghanaians who were stripped off their nationality and deported to US in connection with CIA’s spy games in Ghana in 1985.
In the middle of this month, Major Awuakye appeared before the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) and stated that he was unlawfully sent to the US without a Ghanaian passport.
According to him nobody has the right to deny a citizen of this country his or her nationality adding that when he went to Burma Camp on his return to Ghana to check his documents, he discovered that his file had been marked CIA AGENT.
The ex-military officer told the NRC that his deportation to the US caused him undue hardship and prayed the government through the commission to pay for the cost of transportation whenever he decides to come back.
Major Awuakye stated that he and the seven other Ghanaians were unlawfully exchanged for Mr. Soussoudis.
He added that Mr. Kwamena Ahwoi, a top functionary of the revolutionary government at the time communicated his deportation and denationalization to him.
Mr. Ahwoi reacted speedily to the claims by Major Awuakye at the NRC and stated that he had written to the commission to seek clearance from the US government to give him permission to publicly speak on the circumstances that led to Major Awuakye’s deportation, denationalization and the exchange for Soussoudis.
Mr. Ahwoi confirmed that there was an agreement between the government of Ghana and the US on the exchange of the alleged CIA agents and Soussoudis.
A press statement attributed to Ms. Annie Anipa, Director of Public Affairs of the NRC, said that NRC’s position was that the responsibility of seeking clearance from the US government rested on Mr. Ahwoi.
The NRC’s position on the request from Mr. Kwamena Ahwoi is that under the Act, which established the commission, it does not need clearance from any agency or person.
Section 8 (1) of the National Reconciliation Act, 2002 states: “The commission shall in the discharge of its functions, be independent and not subject to the direction or discretion of any person or authority”
The NRC is also quoted in a press statement as having said that if Mr. Ahwoi’s concern was that the information regarding the denationalization of the alleged CIA agents was too sensitive for public consumption, then he may request for an in-camera hearing.
The Press Attach? of the US Embassy, Mr. David Queen, is quoted by newspaper reports as having said on a radio programme last week that he was not aware of any such agreement between his government and Ghana. Mr. Queen was not in Ghana in 1985.
The deadline given by Mr. Ahwoi seeking clearance to open the Pandora’s box of CIA’s operation in Ghana ends this week, setting the stage for the revelation of the details of how the eight Ghanaians were stripped of their nationality and traded for Soussoudis.