News / Africa

Liberian Press Union Calls for Release of Jailed Journalist

FrontPage Africa publisher Rodney Sieh (center) is being taken to jail (courtesy of FrontPage Africa)FrontPage Africa publisher Rodney Sieh (center) is being taken to jail (courtesy of FrontPage Africa)
x
FrontPage Africa publisher Rodney Sieh (center) is being taken to jail (courtesy of FrontPage Africa)
FrontPage Africa publisher Rodney Sieh (center) is being taken to jail (courtesy of FrontPage Africa)
James Butty
The Press Union of Liberia has condemned as “repressive” the seizure of FrontPage Africa newspaper and the continued imprisonment of its publisher and editor-in-chief Rodney Sieh.

The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling last month that the paper libeled then Agriculture Minister J. Chris Toe and ordered FrontPage Africa to pay $1.5 million in damages.

On August 21, authorities arrested publisher Sieh after he said his paper could not afford to pay the fine. Authorities also shut down the paper on Friday, August 23rd.

Meanwhile, there are unconfirmed reports that publisher Sieh has begun a hunger strike to protest his continued imprisonment.

Press Union of Liberia President Peter Quaqua said that while the Union remains an advocate for the rule of law, it believes the nature of the court’s decision is intended to punish Mr. Sieh rather than repair the alleged damage to Mr. Toe’s reputation.

Quaqua said the Liberian government must step in to free publisher Sieh from further detention.

“And if that is the issue for which he now bears the punishment to spend virtually life time in prison, I think it is too much for our courts to do to anybody. So we’re calling on the court, we’re calling on the government to exercise some very high degree of wisdom to release this man (Sieh) from further detention,” he said.

In a press release Sunday, the Press Union said the Liberian government should have done more to investigate the circumstances under which Toe resigned as agriculture minister instead of punishing journalist Sieh for calling public attention to the story.
Butty interview with Quaqua
Butty interview with Quaquai
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

Quaqua said the Press Union is not calling on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf per se to intervene in the case but rather the Liberian government as a collective body, including the courts.

“We’re not calling on the president. When we say government, this is a collective leadership of our country. We think the question that comes into our country today should be answered by the government, and the government spokesperson happens to be the president and those in authority,” Quaqua said.

Many legal analysts say FrontPage Africa should have encouraged its lawyers to make representation in the Supreme Court when the case was brought before the court. Instead, Sieh chose not to on the grounds that the court was biased against him.

Quaqua said the Press Union remains an advocate for the rule of law and will at all times encourage journalists who come in conflict with the law to submit to the legal system. But he said the union will not support the outcome of a court hearing that violates the basic rights of Liberians.

“The Supreme Court feels angered by this, and I think no journalist, no citizen should go to that length to disrespect the Supreme Court. But my argument with the court is that if Rodney did disrespect them in a particular matter, he should be punished for that but don’t give the verdict somebody else that really doesn’t deserve the argument that we are making today,” Quaqua said.

He said Sieh should apologize to the court, if he wants to, but not to anyone else.

Quaqua could not confirm or deny Sieh’s reported hunger strike, but he said it would be an unfortunate development.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned Liberian authorities’ shut down of FrontPage Africa and the imprisonment of Sieh.

Meanwhile, FrontPage Africa editor Wade Williams told VOA Sunday that the paper, which was shut down Friday, will publish a protest edition on Monday, August 26.

Agriculture Minister Toe sued FrontPage Africa in 2010 after the paper reported what it said were the findings of an official government investigation which accused Toe of corruption.

Toe resigned as agriculture minister and was never charged. In his complaint to the court, Toe said FrontPage Africa libeled him because he was never convicted.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to an enhancement or regression of democracy on the Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Akande from: California
August 26, 2013 8:12 PM
They(governments and corrupt elites) want to silent press freedom.
They do not want the press to reveal their shady dealings and be hldld to higher scrutiny the office they hold. What a shame, in a country that witness horrible civil war. You will think a country like Liberia will promote press independence and not deprive Liberians the ability to voice their displeasure by having a vibrant press. Instead, we have a judicial system punishing the press. The silence of the adminstration about the sentencing of the publisher is disheartening and thus bring a troubling welcome to Liberia.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid