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Newspaper editor-in-chief threatened, in hiding following publication of article about president

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 12 May 2009, Sylvia Blyden, publisher and editor-in-chief of the privately-owned "Awareness Times" newspaper, alleged that her life was in danger and has since fled into hiding.

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)'s correspondent reported that Blyden's decision to flee follows a request from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Sierra Leonean police to provide documentary evidence to substantiate claims she made in a 12 May article about President Ernest Bai Koroma.

The story, written by Blyden and headlined: "Fake First Lady: President's Sweetheart in Kailahun Mess," accused President Koroma of engaging in an extra-marital affair and deceitfully presenting one of his numerous girlfriends as the first lady to the people of Kailahun, a town about 350 kilometres from Freetown, the capital.

The correspondent said that before fleeing, Blyden told some officials of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) that her life has been in danger since the article's publication. "I have been so inundated with death threat by anonymous callers that I had to switch off my mobile phones," she said.

The correspondent said CID personnel conducted a search of the newspaper's premises and confiscated unspecified documents.

Blyden has since defended her story saying that its publication was in the public interest.

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