Sierra Leone UPDATE: Detained journalists refused bail again

The Managing Editor and Editor of the privately-owned Independent Observer newspaper Jonathan Leigh and Bai Bai Sesay were on October 29, 2013, again refused bail by a Freetown-based Magistrate Court.

The two journalists who have been charged with 26 counts of seditious and defamatory libel, have spent 13 days in detention since they were arrested on October 18, for publishing an article deemed defamatory to Sierra Leonean President, Ernest Bai Koroma. The case has been adjourned to November 4.

Meanwhile the Sierra Leone Journalists Association (SLAJ) on October 29, embarked on a media blackout to protest the continuous detention of Leigh and Sesay.

 According to SLAJ president, Kelvin Lewis, out of the over 40 newspapers published daily, only two were published on that day. The two were the Awareness Times published by the Special Executive Assistant to President Koroma, Dr. Sylvia Blyden and the Standard Times published by one Philip Neville.

 Again, out of the over 60 radio stations nationwide, only the state owned Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) and Star Radio, also owned by Neville, did not take part in the blackout.

 Lewis also told MFWA that if the journalists were not released, the media will boycott all government functions and deny the government space in their newspapers or radio stations.

 The MFWA condemns the continuous detention of Leigh and Sesay and calls on President Koroma to demonstrate his commitment to press freedom by ordering the release of the journalists.

For more information please contact:
Kwame Karikari (Prof)
Executive Director
Tel: 233-0302-24 24 70
Fax: 233-0302-22 10 84

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