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Monday, 9 December, 2002, 12:58 GMT
US helped free Liberian journalist
Hassan Bility
Liberia still accuses Bility of being a terrorist
Liberia released a prominent journalist accused of plotting to kill President Charles Taylor because of US pressure, a minister has admitted.

Journalist Hassan Bility was released at the weekend and flew out of the country.

He had been held in isolation since his arrest in June without being charged or tried.

The United States Government and human rights groups had criticised his treatment and that of three other people arrested with him.

Information Minister Reginald Goodridge told the BBC's Network Africa that Liberia had released him in its own national interests.

"It is difficult for a small country like us to say no," he said.

Departure

The Liberian authorities accused Mr Bility of leading a cell of the Lurd rebel movement and held him as a prisoner of war.

Fighting
Liberia recently lifted a state of emergency
Mr Goodridge says he took a Ghana Airways flight out of the country and they had no idea where he was now.

The important thing had been to make sure the journalist left Liberia, he said, because of people's anger at what he and his conspirators had done.

"Hassan Bility was a terrorist involved in an Islamic fundamentalist war," the minister said.

And he said he had not been released because of humanitarian concerns.

Mr Bility, editor of the local independent daily The Analyst, had been in detention with 10 other Liberians of his ethnic Mandingo tribe since 24 June.

United States Ambassador John William Blaney and embassy officials turned out at Roberts International Airport, 45km south of the capital, Monrovia, to see Mr Bility leave.

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 ON THIS STORY
Reginald Goodridge
"We would have preferred the process to continue"
News, analysis and background from Liberia's conflict and escalating refugee crisis

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19 Nov 02 | Africa
14 Sep 02 | Africa
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