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Liberian publisher Rodney Sieh released from prison

FrontPage Africa publisher Rodney Sieh was released from prison on 8 November 2013.
FrontPage Africa publisher Rodney Sieh was released from prison on 8 November 2013.

Ken Harper/SI Newhouse School of Public Communications

Details have emerged about the conditions and negotiations leading to the closure of the libel matter involving the publisher of the FrontPage Africa newspaper, Rodney Sieh.

It has been revealed that lawyers representing former agriculture minister Dr. Chris Toe recently filed a bill of information to the civil law court, indicating that they have considered dropping the 1.5 million libel case against Rodney Sieh. Against this background, lawyers representing Rodney Sieh filed a motion to the court which led to his release, hours after he was whisked to prison on 8 November 2013 – the day his compassionate release elapsed.

In line with the bill of information filed, lawyers representing Mr. Rodney Sieh also filed a bill of information praying the lower court to drop court charges that amount to US $90,000 against their client.

The hearing into the matter, leading to formal closure, has been deferred to 18 November 2013.

Rodney Sieh and his newspaper were found guilty by a lower court of libeling former Agriculture Minister Chris Toe. The court ruled that the paper failed to substantiate its claims that the minister diverted millions of dollars intended to fight an epidemic in two regions of Liberia.

The FrontPage Africa publisher admitted that some eminent statesmen were involved in the negotiation culminating to his release, adding that both sides made concessions.

He is quoted as saying that his newspaper will resume publication in the coming days, from the same critical standpoint.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying
  • Newspaper editor released, former minster drops case

    "We urge the authorities to complete the decriminalization of media offences by establishing a ceiling on damages awards without any further delay, so that such an episode does not recur. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed the decriminalization bill into law in July 2012. More than a year later, Liberia’s entire press corps is still waiting for it to become a reality."

  • Digital Freedom Spotlight: Rodney Sieh

    Under Sieh’s leadership FrontPage Africa set a new standard for journalism in Liberia with groundbreaking reporting that has brought down senior government figures and exposed corruption at all levels.

Case history

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