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Newspaper publisher turns herself in to police, bail set at "extortionary" level

(RSF/IFEX) - The amount of bail which a Freetown court has set for the release of Sylvia Blyden, the publisher and editor of the independent newspaper "Awareness Times", is tantamount to judicial extortion, Reporters Without Borders has said.

On 21 May 2009, the court demanded 50 million leones (approx. US$16,000) in bail to free Blyden, who has been charged with publishing false information in a 12 May article about an alleged extramarital affair involving President Ernest Bai Koroma. Blyden turned herself into Freetown police on 20 May.

"This sum would be laughing matter if the case were not so serious," Reporters Without Borders said. "It looks as if Blyden is being personally punished. We urge the authorities to stop persecuting her and to act fairly by releasing her unconditionally."

Blyden has received several death threats.

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