George Weah intervenes in bid to help Liberia captives

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The Independent Online

Liberian soccer star George Weah is to help the campaign to free four TV journalists detained on spying charges in his west African homeland, according to his club Manchester City.

Liberian soccer star George Weah is to help the campaign to free four TV journalists detained on spying charges in his west African homeland, according to his club Manchester City.

The former world footballer of the year hopes to meet Liberian president Charles Taylor on Monday to argue the men's case.

The film-crew - two Britons, a South African and a Sierra Leonean - were detained last week while making a documentary for Channel 4. On Monday they were formally charged with espionage.

They were denied bail yesterday by Judge Timothy Swote, who said that the charges they faced could attract the death penalty, and are now in prison in Liberian capital Monrovia.

Manchester City chief executive Chris Bird said Weah hoped to speak to Mr Taylor after playing for Liberia against Mauritius on Sunday.

The meeting has not yet been confirmed, but Weah's name carries great weight in the country as a footballer, an acquaintance of the president, and an ambassador for Unicef.

Britain's ambassador to the Ivory Coast - the nearest country with a British Embassy - is to deliver a personal message from the UK Government expressing concern at the arrests.

In London, the case was also due to be raised with visiting South African president Thabo Mbeki.

Former South African president Nelson Mandela and US President Bill Clinton's special envoy to Africa Jesse Jackson have already made public appeals to Mr Taylor to free the journalists.

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