Letter from Africa: Why I was sentenced to 5,000 years in jail


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Greg Stemm

In our series of letters from African writers, Rodney D Sieh, editor of Liberia’s FrontPageAfrica, reflects on what his career says about the state of journalism in West Africa.

My claim to infamy was being sentenced to 5,000 years in prison for failing to pay libel damages of $1.6m (£1.2m) won by a former minister who sued my paper after we published the findings of a government audit.

It had found that funds worth $6m intended to combat an army-worm epidemic were unaccounted for.

I served four months in 2013 in the notorious Monrovia Central Prison, where I was thrown into a cell with murderers, armed robbers and petty criminals.

The prison, built in the…

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