I am going to tell you the truth, sir, and nothing but the truth. In 1996 during the 6 April - during a firefight in the streets of Monrovia which came to be known as the 6 April fighting in the Monrovia when two warring faction leaders, they were on the Council of State, Mr Charles Taylor and Mr Alhaji Kromah, had allied to arrest another warring faction leader called Roosevelt Johnson, I worked with the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission at the time. There was a massive displacement of Liberians in Monrovia and many, many, many thousands of Liberians went to a compound called Greystone. That is G-R-E-Y, I am not sure if it is E-Y or A-Y, stone, S-T-O-N-E. It's a yard - it's a compound leased or owned by the United States embassy.
They went there to seek refuge from the then progressive fighting in Monrovia. The fighting was coming - was all over the city. So the United States embassy had asked them to leave. They had nowhere to go; thousands of Liberians. Tearfund with which I worked was there in Liberia. It is a British - it's a UK based organisation that provides shelter for refugees and displaced people, Tearfund money, okay. They asked the Liberian government to negotiate with the United States embassy. The United States embassy said it did not trust any Liberian politician because if they negotiated with them they wouldn't come for these people because they said that they thought that the Liberian politicians did not care about their own people. So I was asked to go and speak with them. Prior to that I had had absolutely no contact with any official of the United States embassy.
I went and introduced myself to one of the embassy officials and I told him that my name was Hassan Bility and that I worked with the - with a joint programme run by the Liberian Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission, LRRRC, and Tearfund, a UK based organisation, I was the coordinator and that I was requesting a time frame of three to four days to allow the displaced Liberians to stay in their Greystone yard compound within which time I would be able to negotiate land deals with settlements like in Dixville, Plunkor and Coffee Farm. Dixville is in Upper Caldwell, Monrovia, outside Monrovia. Plunkor is also somewhere on the road to Tubmanburg, you know, and Coffee Farm is in Upper Caldwell.
They said that I spoke with someone they could trust, my first ever contact, and they gave me three days to build the shelters, to build tarpaulin to move the refugees, the displaced there. That was my first contact which was done successfully.
The second contacts or the second contact or whatever contacts came after I did not pass on. That is what I want the clarification on that two words itself. I did not like pass on. My understanding of pass on. What I did, I had friends in the United States embassy and those friends were the political counsellors and human rights officer. What I did, we had dinners at some point and we share our opinions on the prevailing circumstances in Liberia, and they asked me questions on certain issues and I asked them questions on certain issues, but it wasn't like I collected information from here to there. No, I mean, as a journalist, and what prompted that was my first contact in that context I was looking for confirmation of a news story regarding the murder of the late Samuel Dokie and his family who had been placed in a car and burned beyond recognition. I went to - I called an embassy official because they had, one of the embassy officials, Liberian staff, had told me that they had got information that Samuel Dokie's body was found in Bomi instead of Bong County. So I called the political consulate office to get confirmation and to also ask if it were true that Mr Taylor was still needed by a Massachusetts - in Massachusetts, you know, where he was alleged to have escaped from the Plymouth county jail, and they said to give 24 hours and they will answer me. I said, "Well, I will need to publish this story tomorrow." They said, "Well, you have to wait." I waited 24 hours. I got the information from them and I published this story. So that was the beginning of my contacts with them. We had dinners outside of the embassy. We talked like friends. We share opinions and those were political counsellors and one human rights officer at the United States embassy, clear.