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Liberia drops charges against top opposition figure

Liberia drops charges against top opposition figure
Liberia's President George Manneh Weah arrives for the opening ceremony of the "Paris Peace Forum" at The Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris on November 11, 2021. Ludovic MA   -  
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LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP or licensors


The Liberian judiciary has dropped all charges against Henry Costa, a prominent government critic and has invited him to return to his native West African country from the US.

The popular online radio host was also one of the main instigators of protests in January 2020 against President Weah.

In October 2019, the Liberian authorities had closed Roots FM, the radio station of President Weah's detractor, accused of inciting violence and extracting money from Liberians by threatening to verbally attack them on air.

The host had made a triumphant return to his country at the end of 2019, in the midst of an anti-Weah protest.

Mr Costa was under investigation by the Liberian authorities who said they suspected his travel documents were fake.

After a series of disputes with Liberian immigration authorities, he was ordered to report regularly to the authorities, but he preferred to leave Liberia on the sly in early 2020. After being briefly detained in neighbouring Sierra Leone, he was able to return to the United States.

The Department of Justice announced in a statement on Thursday evening that the charges against him had been dropped with immediate effect. It also ordered the return of his seized radio broadcasting equipment. Finally, the ministry invited Mr. Costa to return to Liberia to "live freely like any other citizen".

However, the statement warned him against spreading disinformation and called on him to respect the law.

"The ministry will not stand idly by and allow anyone to hijack the democratic space with lies, invective and disinformation for selfish reasons," the ministry said.

Mr Costa welcomed the news on Facebook. “This is a major victory for us and for democracy. We shall continue to advocate for you and fight for a better Liberia for us all.” Costa wrote.

About 250,000 lives have been lost through civil war in Liberia between 1989 and 2003.

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