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Liberia4 September 2002

Reporters Without Borders demands news of vanished journalist

(JPEG) Reporters Without Borders today expressed its "extreme concern" about the fate of Hassan Bility (photo), editor of the privately-owned weekly paper The Analyst accused by the Liberian government of plotting with rebel forces to kill President Charles Taylor.

The organisation strongly criticised the government’s attitude and called on it to respect the Constitution and bring the journalist before a judge. Despite numerous requests since his arrest on 24 June along with two other people, he has not appeared in court and the government has not kept its promise to allow a Red Cross representative to see him.

The three are being held in a secret place without formal charges in violation of article 21 of the Constitution, which says anyone arrested must be brought before a court and charged within 48 hours.

Reporters Without Borders’ renewed concern is prompted by the disappearance of his common-law wife and mother of his two children, Maria Nyenetue, who left Monrovia on 20 August to try to see him after apparently receiving word from him that he was Klay, 50 km northwest of Monrovia, and needed some money. She set off after declining to give the money to the person who brought the message.

Bility’s newspaper is very critical of President Taylor. Soon after the journalist’s arrest, information minister Reginald Goodridge said he had been a "central figure" among "those who have been running cells in Monrovia actively collaborating with the LURD (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy) and their supporters in the United States" with the aim of assassinating President Taylor. A LURD spokesman denied this.

In July and August, the authorities refused to present Bility and the two others in court as demanded by several human rights organisations and despite a habeas corpus order by Liberia’s supreme military court.

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