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Fight for freedom for Liberian editor

UPDATE: According to information received by the Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding from Front Page Africa, Rodney Sieh was released in November. Thanks for your support!

Ken Harper/SI Newhouse School of Public Communications

Rodney Sieh, founder and editor of award-winning newspaper Front Page Africa, was jailed on 21 August 2013 after being fined US$1.5 million in libel damages for a story about a former government minister. Sieh was admitted twice to the hospital after his health faltered due to a hunger strike he began after being sent to prison in Monrovia.

A petition started by his supporters to free the ailing editor is now closed.

Press Union of Liberia

The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) launched a series of actions for Sieh on 23 September, including a poster campaign. PUL previously stated, "it is the wisdom of our Supreme Court that Rodney Sieh should spend more years in jail on libel than former President Charles Taylor who was sentenced to fifty years for war crimes."

Liberia's Supreme Court, which upheld the ruling, ordered the newspaper to close and that Sieh be held until he could pay the fine – tantamount to a life sentence as it is more than 30 times the newspaper's annual operating budget.

The case dates back to 2010 when a lower court found the newspaper guilty 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 minister was forced to resign, but the paper was still prosecuted.

Front Page Africa is well-known for its investigative journalism and media freedom promotion, and has won a number of awards.

The constitutionality of Sieh's detention is being challenged at the Supreme Court, reports the PUL. Front Page Africa, in partnership with the Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP) and the Media Legal Defence Initiative, propose to take the case to the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) court of justice in Abuja, Nigeria.

For more information, visit the campaign website to free Sieh at

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