New York, December 9, 2002—Liberian authorities released journalist Hassan Bility, whom authorities had held incommunicado since June 24 as a "prisoner of war."
According to news reports, Bility, editor of the independent weekly The Analyst, was released without being charged or tried. He left the country this weekend for an undisclosed location.
On December 1, the Liberian government issued a statement saying that Bility and his colleagues would be released if the U.S. Embassy agreed to take them out of the country.
The BBC quoted Liberia's information minister Reginald Goodridge as saying that the government wanted to make sure Bility left the country because he was "a terrorist involved in an Islamic fundamentalist war," and that the Liberian people were angry at what he and his conspirators had done.
Bility—whose publication has been a regular target of official harassment in recent years—and two associates, Ansumana Kamara and Mohammed Kamara, were accused of colluding with the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD). The LURD has been waging an armed struggle along Liberia's border with Guinea in a bid to topple the government of President Charles Taylor.