Reporters Without Borders is pleased to learn that Frontpage Africa editor Rodney Sieh is a free man again. Sieh was taken back to prison when his 30 days of “compassionate leave” expired on 8 November but was formally released the same day.
In a related development, former agriculture minister Chris Toe yesterday withdrew his libel action against Sieh and let it be known he is no longer seeking payment of the 1.5 million dollars in damages ordered by a court. It was Sieh’s failure to pay that led to his imprisonment.
“Sieh’s release is a great relief after this saga consisting of his arrest, imprisonment, home leave on ‘compassionate’ grounds, house arrest and finally last week’s release,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We hope it ends the judicial harassment to which Sieh and his newspaper have been subjected for the past four months.
“We urge the authorities to complete the decriminalization of media offences by establishing a ceiling on damages awards without any further delay, so that such an episode does not recur. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed the decriminalization bill into law in July 2012. More than a year later, Liberia’s entire press corps is still waiting for it to become a reality.”
The court handling the Sieh case is expected to issue a final ruling on 18 November.