It is Pay To Play at Google and who ever pays the fee gets their listing first on Google’s search engine results and woe be to the victims if a slander ends up leading the page.

Pay to play or pay to slander? When ever I have typed my name on Google search for the past year or more at the top of the list runs “Shame on Thomas C. Mountain”.

The post in question is a letter, not even an article, from a small, truth challenged and suspiciously funded web site on the fringes of the multimillion person Horn of Africa diaspora.

The letter says I am a paid agent for the Eritrean government, paid to lie even, a nasty slander, with malice, for it attacks my reputation as an independent, citizen journalist.

The web site in question that posts the letter long ago lost any credibility in the African community and I don’t care what they say about me. The problem is when I am Google-Smeared, that this libelous tripe get listed first on the search results that Google provides its customers.

As new readers are exposed to my work, much of which is almost unique when it comes to reporting from Africa, the first thing they see when looking for more is slander, pay to slander, courtesy of Google.

I say slander because for some two decades now I have been writing on matters African and have never accepted any payment for my work.

I have lived and reported from Eritrea in the Horn of Africa since 2006 and any claim that I am paid by the Eritrean government flies in the face what I experience on the ground here.

I have long challenged anyone to provide anything published by the Eritrean Ministry of Information that I wrote for them. I challenge anyone to provide any evidence that I have been interviewed by Eritrean radio or television for the past decade now.

Far from being a paid agent, reality is that I am unofficially “persona non grata” at the Eritrean Ministry of Information. The Minister of Information even held a press conference once to DENY one of my articles.

I may not be very popular with some at the Ministry of Information but because I write an objective, reality on the ground based portrayal of what is actually going on in the country as a whole I have little to worry about.

My experience here in Eritrea is that if you write the truth you are going to be left alone, as I have been for five years now. The problem is that almost every western “journalist” who stage one of their infamous hit and run “investigations” here in Eritrea has ended up recycling long discredited lies and misinformation. Its not really their fault, for as the last BBC “distorter” based in Asmara whined after being confronted about his one sided reports “even if I wrote something good about Eritrea my editors [at BBC Nairobi desk] wont run it”.

They say no good deed goes unpunished and it seems being Google-Smeared is my reward. My options are limited. I can plunk down $50,000 as a retainer for an attorney specializing in slander, with malice, and then wait to get crushed under the weight of Googles billion dollar legal department.

And don’t tell me to contact Google to complain until you have tried it yourself, never mind that I have to call from the Horn of Africa.

So Google-Smeared I will have to remain, pay to slander is the game. Only what I write about, including mass murder most foul, genocide even, is deadly serious.

Thomas C. Mountain is the only independent western journalist in the Horn of Africa, living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006. He can be reached at thomascmountain at yahoo dot com.

All articles and letters published on IndepthAfrica have been independently written. The views of writers  on  IndepthAfrica are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of IndepthAfrica.