Family claims Canadian authorities assisting but Trinidad and Tobago unaware — Vlogger seeks diplomatic help after sedition charge

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A screengrab from a YouTube video by Chris Must List on gang violence in TT. –

THE family of Canadian YouTube vlogger Christopher “Chris Must List” Hughes said they are working around the clock with the authorities and Global Affairs in Canada and Trinidad to secure his release after Hughes was charged with sedition on May 30.

But Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne says there has not been any outreach by Canadian authorities to the government. In a post on Hughes’ YouTube channel on June 1, Hughes’ family said they appreciated the support and outreach from members of the public.

“At this time, there will be no back-and-forth messages to provide further detail/responses as we are primarily focusing our energy on the matter at hand but we are hard at work to ensure progress.

“We kindly ask refraining from contacting the (Canadian) Embassy and Global Affairs, to allow us to continue our progress without interruption to the team assisting us at this time and not to interrupt or interfere in the process.

“We thank you for your kind words and understanding. Our family and the people we are working with closely, require privacy at this time and need time to put our efforts and focus into getting Chris out safely.”

The message comes a day after his family had called the TT public to “protest and come together to draw attention to the front of the station to release (Hughes).” Speaking to Newsday on June 1, Browne said his ministry had not been approached by Canada’s Global Affairs.

Global Affairs Canada is the department of the government of Canada that manages Canada’s diplomatic and consular relations, promotes Canadian international trade, and leads Canada’s international development and humanitarian assistance.

“At the Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs, we’ve received no outreach, communication, or contact on this matter from the Canadian authorities to this point.”

On May 29, the Canadian High Commission said it was “aware of the detention” of a Canadian national in TT and was working with the authorities.

A release from police on May 30 said the investigation into Hughes began after his social media activities under the pseudonym “Chris Must List” came to light. “Hughes allegedly posted videos featuring individuals professing to be gang members, advocating criminal activities, and using threatening language.

“Hughes was detained, interviewed, and informed of the allegations against him. After consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr. Roger Gaspard, SC, he directed detectives to charge the accused under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act.”

Hughes is scheduled to appear in court on June 3.

Hughes had previously said he believed his arrest was politically motivated. He claimed he had been threatened by two politicians and two police officers.

“I am loved in this country. I want to keep it that way. I have done nothing wrong. It seems like a political ploy for some reason. Someone in the government is upset,” he told his lawyer Criston J Williams on May 29.

Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs Dr Amery Browne – File photo by Angelo Marcelle

Contacted for an update on Saturday, Williams told Newsday he was remaining silent on the issue.

“I’m remaining silent. There is a time to speak and a time to be silent.”

Hughes claimed he was present when police raided the Resistance gang in the hills of Upper St Michael Road, off St John’s Road, St Augustine, on May 23, where four men were killed. He said he had recorded footage of the incident and had planned to release it.

The men were linked to the kidnapping of doubles vendor Anisha Hosein, 27, of Maracas, St Joseph, who was snatched on May 18 at her business place in El Dorado. She was released on May 22 near the Caroni Cremation Site. A ransom had been demanded for her safe release but police nor her relatives have disclosed the ransom demand or whether it was paid.

In a Facebook post on May 12, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds said foreigners had been popping up in some of TT’s hotspot communities.

“[They are] filming encounters with eager persons, most of whom do not represent the best that we are, here in Trinbago. These videos highlight the display of weapons, and obscenities, as well as veiled and unveiled threats to individuals and opposing gangs.

“I am aware that the police are investigating these matters. These investigations should include, who are these people; who invited or sponsored them; and what is their purpose and intention. One cannot now know the motives of these strangers, but we can be sure that the outcomes will include increased gang violence and a greater desire on the part of the “bangers” to “gun-up,” since open threats are thrown out by; and to their “enemies.”

Hinds said he hoped the police would get to the bottom of the “madness, the source, the purpose and the players.

“Most of all, it is hoped that they find the featured guns! It is also hoped that the many opportunities and development programmes that are available to our young people, be made known to these young men (and the few innocent children) featured in some of the videos so that they can take up more positive pathways in life, and stay away from the nothingness, bloodshed and suffering that gangster business inevitably brings.”

Meanwhile, head of the police’s corporate communications unit Joanne Archie refuted an article in the Saturday Express which claimed police had taken Hughes from police custody for a drive in Laventille and East Port of Spain to identify gangs.

“This is untrue and the author of the article will correct it,” Archie told Newsday via WhatsApp on Saturday. The Express story was removed from its website on June 1.