The imprisoned Editor of Liberia’s biggest news paper, FrontpageAfrica, Mr. Rodney Sieh has been hospitalized at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in the capitol, Monrovia. According to sources close to Mr Sieh who are working in consultation with his legal team to secure his release, confirmed that the Editor was taken to the hospital from the infamous Monrovia Central Prison early Tuesday morning and has been diagnosed with malaria.
Family source of Mr Sieh says they have been prevented from seeing the editor.
The Liberian journalist has been on hunger strike since his imprisonment, vowing not to eat in protest of his imprisonment and the court’s ruling to pay an alleged criminal US$1.5 million for misappropriating and squandering over US$104 million of Liberian taxpayers money.
Editor Sieh was taken to prison last Wednesday by the Civil Law Court for failing to pay US$ 1.5 million to a former Liberian Agriculture Minister, Chris Toe who sued the FrontpageAfrica and its Editor on libel for publishing what he termed as libelous story implicating him in corruption and theft of property when he served as Agriculture Minister.
In his defense, the Liberian Editor provided documentations to the court justifying his publication which he insisted was the audit report conducted by the Liberian government through the General Audit Commission which indicted Minister Toe on corruption and theft of property. The Editor pleaded that a journalist or newspaper can not be accused of libel by publishing a news story base d on the findings of a public audit report conducted by the government and found guilty of libel.
Minister Chris Toe was indicted by the General Audit Commission for misappropriating US$100 million, funds meant for inserts infestation of the central and northern parts of the country. The audit report also demanded that the Minister repay the Liberian government US$4 million which he squandered at the Guthrie Rubber Plantation.
The Liberian government is yet to prosecute Minister Toe after the government’s audit report found him of misappropriating and squandering over US$104 million. The audit was commissioned by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf after a Deputy Minister blew whistle on him and submitted to the President a detailed report of Minister Toe’s unchecked and unilateral running of the ministry as well as misappropriation of funds.
Minister Toe subsequently left the ministry but in a letter from the Liberian leader accepting his departure, the President praised Minister Toe for his hard work and integrity exhibited during his tenure at the Agriculture Ministry. Minister Toe used President Sirleaf’s letter of commendation as a basis in court that the corruption and theft of property news story as reported by the FrontpageAfrica was libelous because the President’s letter was contradictory to the publication. The Civil Law Court agreed with Minister Toe and granted judgement in his favor instructing the newspaper to pay him US$1.5 million in damages.