*Photo courtesy of Bernews
*Photo courtesy of Bernews

Ayo Johnson, a freelance journalist and former political reporter for The Royal Gazette, was initially barred from today's press conference at the Cabinet Building.

In a bizarre series of events just before noon, a uniformed guard barred Mr Johnson from entering the door to the press conference, which featured remarks from Premier Craig Cannonier about allegations of political corruption that have dominated the news since Friday.

Mr Johnson could be heard arguing with government officials and the guard to allow him entry. His voice was clearly tinged with frustration when he asked the guard if he knew his country's constitution, and could be heard arguing about the importance of freedom of the press.

It was unclear why Mr Johnson was initially barred from the conference; he said he was told he did not have the proper credentials or clearance to attend. Mr Johnson countered that he was one of the most experienced political reporters on the island. Other reporters present pointed out that no other journalist needed any sort of credentials or written clearance to attend the press event.

Some members of the press, including the Bermuda Sun, Bernews.com and ZBM, were prepared to walk out of the press conference in solidarity with Mr Johnson, while others said they had no such plans. Ultimately, Mr Johnson was allowed entry.

"Now I'm really angry," he said, placing his recorder on the table shortly before the Premier spoke.

Government is preparing a statement on the matter which we will post as soon as we receive it.

Mr Johnson reported on Thursday, he received an e-mail from the Department of Communications and Information, which read: 

"Please be advised that you have been added to DCI's media distribution list with immediate effect. You will receive notifications of press conferences and press statements/releases and will be allowed to attend/cover government press conferences and events."

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