Liberian editor jailed for failing to pay massive libel award granted 'compassionate release'

A Justice Ministry official says the publisher of one of Liberia's leading newspapers has been temporarily released after serving more than a month in prison on a libel conviction that has drawn international outcry.

Maude Somah, the ministry's communications director, said Rodney Sieh had been granted a 30-day "compassionate release" at the request of his lawyers. Sieh staged a hunger strike and was then hospitalized for malaria soon after his arrest in late August.

Sieh, publisher and editor of the independent newspaper FrontPageAfrica, was jailed for failing to pay $1.5 million in damages awarded to former Agriculture Minister Chris Toe. The relevant articles covered a government audit finding Toe's ministry could not account for millions of dollars.

It was not immediately clear whether Sieh would be re-arrested after 30 days.