Jailed Liberian journalist in hospital after hunger strike

Jailed Liberian journalist in hospital after hunger strike

Press freedom in Liberia is under fire after an editor has been jailed over reports about government corruption.
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The editor of one of Liberia's leading newspapers was spending his eighth day in hospital on Tuesday after he was jailed over reports about government corruption, according to its staff.

Rodney Sieh, who publishes Frontpage Africa, was taken into custody on August 21 following a Supreme Court ruling that the paper should pay US $1.6 million (1.2 million euros) for libelling former agriculture minister J. Chris Toe.

The court ordered that the paper be closed down until the damages are paid in full and Sieh was sent to jail, where he was reported to have launched a hunger strike.

He was rushed to hospital on August 27 after a rapid decline in his condition, according to Reporters Without Borders.

"He is responding to the treatment and has started eating," said Frontpage Africa desk editor Wade Williams, confirming that Sieh was still in hospital.

Toe successfully sued the paper after Sieh wrote a series of stories in 2009 accusing the minister of embezzling agriculture ministry funds.

Frontpage Africa has been vociferous in its criticism of the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in recent years.

Sieh is expected to remain incarcerated until he pays the damages or Sirleaf intervenes.

 The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists described Sieh's detention as "disproportionate and tainted with political undertones" and called on Sirleaf to pardon him.

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