Trinidad: Police arrest Canadian YouTuber, charges him with sedition intent

Canadian YouTuber Christopher Hughes, widely known as Chris Must List, has been charged with sedition by local police after videos showed him allegedly interviewing reputed gang members in various parts of the country.

The arrest and charges against Hughes have left other international social media influencers upset, with some openly expressing their anger with the authorities in T&T.

Hughes, 45, had been detained by police on May 28 at Flag Staff, Long Circular, hours before he was scheduled to leave the country.

The YouTube sensation arrived in T&T three weeks ago and began visiting communities where he allegedly met with reputed gang leaders, members and affiliates who openly displayed their cache of illegal arms and ammunition and also spoke of their operations and transactions.

Yesterday, the TTPS, in a statement titled YouTuber on TTPS Naughty list charged under Sedition Act, explained that Hughes was formally charged by Sgt Lee of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) with Publishing a Statement with a Seditious Intention on May 29.

The TTPS said the investigation into Hughes began after his social media activities under the pseudonym “Chris Must List” came to light. It said Hughes allegedly posted videos featuring individuals professing to be gang members, advocating criminal activities, and using threatening language.

Police said he was detained, interviewed and informed of the allegations against him following which the Director of Public Prosecutions, Roger Gaspard, SC, directed detectives to charge him under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act.

Hughes allegedly visited areas including Tunapuna, Morvant, La Horquetta, Belmont and Sea Lots. Videos allegedly showed members of the Resistance gang, whose members were killed during a shootout with police during their investigations into the kidnapping of doubles vendor Anisha Hosein-Singh.

Police said several items belonging to Hughes were seized including one Apple cellphone; one Mac Book; one GoPro; two Sony cameras; and a memory card.

The charge of sedition carries a fine on conviction of $3,000 and imprisonment for two years; or a fine of $20,000 and imprisonment for five years.

Hughes’ attorney Criston Williams expressed scepticism over the speed at which the authorities moved to charge his client after he spoke of filing a Habeas Corpus yesterday.

Anticipating the fallout from the charges, Williams speculated it could be “catastrophic” for the country.

Influencers upset

Already, several social media influencers have reacted angrily to charges being laid against Hughes.

Some posted messages to “Free Chris Must List”.

Content creator Opinion Box said the situation “was not looking good for Trinidad and Tobago at all.”

He warned the news of the arrest had made its way to popular content creator Dylan, who had thousands of followers.

Another influencer Coco Girl visited Hughes during his detention.

Fellow YouTuber JaySauced weighed in on the unfolding controversy as she said it simply did not add up.

In the social media post, she said, “Trinidad is a tax-paying country. The citizens, the civilians, families, dogs, birds, everyone out there pays (expletive) taxes to live there.”

She went on to question, “What are they doing with the money?”

She called on the authorities to fix what was wrong as charging Hughes was not the way to rectify the embarrassment they were facing as a result of his findings and recordings.

On Wednesday, when asked about the situation with Chris Must List, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, while at the Brix Hotel during a Cyber-Security Operations Launch, said, “The law is the law and you must abide by it.”

Hughes is expected to appear in court on Monday, according to police sources. Legal experts said yesterday nothing was preventing him from applying for bail in the interim.

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