Liberia rejects pleas from international press groups to release jailed editor

Liberia's government has rejected calls from international press groups to release an editor jailed for publishing an official audit which accuses an ex-minister of corruption.

Rodney Sieh, publisher and editor of the independent newspaper FrontPageAfrica, was arrested Aug. 21 after failing to pay $1.5 million in damages awarded to former Agriculture Minister Chris Toe. Police closed the paper's offices two days later. Sieh then launched a hunger strike and was hospitalized last week with malaria.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, has endorsed the repeal of criminal defamation laws, yet multiple libel convictions have been handed down during her time in office.

In a statement Tuesday, Liberia's information ministry said the court's verdict against Sieh should be respected.