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Liberian Police Arrest Journalists - 2002-02-12

In Liberia, authorities have closed down a national newspaper and arrested three of its journalists Tuesday. The action came hours after President Charles Taylor warned critics not to oppose emergency powers he had ordered in an attempt to deal with a rebel insurgency. Stanley Seakor is managing editor of The Analyst, a Liberian daily newspaper based in Monrovia, the capital. On Tuesday afternoon police arrested him and two other journalists on the paper for an article published in Tuesday's edition that examined the state of emergency imposed by President Taylor.

A police spokesman said authorities needed "further clarification" of the article. In addition to the arrest of the three journalists, police have closed the paper until further notice.

Earlier on Tuesday, the ministry of information issued a statement saying that any group commenting on the state of emergency, without first seeking proper government authorization, would be dealt with in keeping with the dictates of the law.

President Taylor declared the state of emergency last Friday, after a rebel forces took the town of Klay, about 40 kilometers from the capital. While government forces say they have now regained control of Klay, clashes continue in Bupalo, about 80 kilometers from Monrovia, as well as in the north of the country, where the rebel insurgency started almost two years ago.

Humanitarian agencies estimate that as many as 11,000 people have fled their homes since the fighting began on Friday.