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Liberia29 April 2002

Independent newspaper closed under state of emergency

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) today strongly condemned the government’s closure of the independent The Analyst Newspaper and called for the arbitrary ban to be lifted at once.

"This is the second time the paper has been interfered with on the pretext of national security since the state of emergency began last 8 February," RSF secretary-general Robert Ménard said in a letter to information minister Reginald Goodridge.

Police searched the paper’s offices on 26 April and ordered it to close. According to Goodridge, this was so an investigation could be made. He said the paper was suspected of being "an agent for political detractors by inciting the public to create chaos" during the state of emergency. Police chief Paul Mulbah reportedly said the paper might not appear again.

RSF noted that on 13 February this year, four of the paper’s journalists, including managing editor Stanley Seakor and reporter James Lloyd, were arrested by police in Monrovia. Police chief Mulbah said they had been detained because of several articles that were "not out for peace" and "poisoned the minds of the people."

He cited several headlines from the paper, such as "Liberians drowning in horrors", "Emergency power pinch businesses" and "What rights and freedoms can the President suspend?" and warned that any journalist who tried to "subvert the peace" would be prosecuted.

President Charles Taylor declared a state of emergency on 8 February after rebels attacked the town of Klay, about 40 km north of the capital.

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