US-Based Guyanese Political Activist, Rickford Burke, Allegedly Served With Guyana Court Summons

NEW YORK, New York – The US-based Guyanese political activist, Rickford Burke, has “categorically denied” being served with a Guyana police-issued court summons to attend court in March next year on charges related to extortion, sedition and inciting public terror.

burkericRickford Burke (file Photo)In a statement issued in Georgetown on Wednesday, the Guyana Police Force (GPF) said that Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Rodwell Sarrabo, on December 16, met with Mark Wesserman, a US-based process server, and that they served both defendant summons on Burke at his home address on Maple Street in Brooklyn.

According to the statement Burke, a former advisor to the late Guyana president Desmond Hoyte, is wanted on several offences, including “the excitement of hostility or ill-will on the grounds of Race, under the Racial Hostility Act, sedition under the Cyber Crime Act, use of a computer system to coerce and intimidate a person, under the Cyber Crime Act. As well as seditious libel contrary to common law”.

The statement said he is also wanted on “seditious libel under the peace under the Summary Jurisdiction Offences Act and inciting public terror under the Criminal Law Offences Act”.

The GPF  warned in its statement on Wednesday that “a similar course of action will be adopted against persons who are outside of the jurisdiction and engage in criminal conduct.”

But Burke,  the president of the Brooklyn-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) , has through a spokesman, denied the allegations.

“The Guyana Police Force is engaged in egregious lies, serious illegal conduct and fraudulent activities,” said Richard Millington, an attorney, who serves as CGID’s director of communications.

“Mr. Burke was never served with a document and did not sign for or accept a document.,” he said in a statement, noting that “gunmen left pieces of paper on Mr. Burke’s steps, which were retrieved and taken as evidence by the NYPD (New York Police Department).

“The Guyana Police Force and Courts of Guyana have no jurisdiction to regulate and police speech of Guyanese in America or to serve criminal charges on anyone in the US,” Millington added.

Millington said Burke, who has been living in the US since 1992, “remains devoted to ending political corruption and racism in Guyana,” and that “from his Brooklyn studios, Mr. Burke publishes a twice-weekly news and opinion talk show on Facebook and YouTube titled, ‘Conversation with Rickford Burke,’ protesting what he believes to be corruption inside the current PPP Government of Guyana and racist policies and practices.”

Millington said that the ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government in Guyana “is not happy,”  and that on Saturday, December 16, 2023, as Burke was departing his residence for church, accompanied by a colleague, rhey were confronted by Sarabos and Wasserman.

“Wasserman shouted, ‘are you Rickford Burke?’ and attempted to shove unidentified papers in his face.  Mr. Burke requested that they leave his property, ignored Wasserman, locked the doors to his home, descended the stairs, exited his yard, and left for church in a waiting vehicle.

“The two Guyana agents remained in the yard, and were later observed rifling through documents and correspondence in Mr. Burke’s mailbox,” Millington said. adding that “tampering with mail is a federal crime in the United States.”

Millington said the matter was reported to the US Postal Police, and that Burke also contacted the NYPD.

The CGID’s communications director said the NYPD “retrieved a document the Guyana agents left” on Burke’s stairs, and that “officers from the NYPD determined that the men were agents of the PPP Government of Guyana.”

Millington said “the NYPD immediately called in the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), and that “the FBI presently is investigating whether the Government of Guyana has engaged in a transnational effort to repress speech using criminal charges.”

He said the NYPD also has “engaged” the US Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).