Liberia denies access to 'spies'

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The Independent Online

The Government has summoned a Liberian official to the Foreign Office to protest the "unacceptable" treatment of a British news crew being held on espionage charges.

The Government has summoned a Liberian official to the Foreign Office to protest the "unacceptable" treatment of a British news crew being held on espionage charges.

The Foreign Office minister Peter Hain called in Jeff Dowana, the Liberian chargé d'affaires, to demand that British representatives be given immediate access to the men working for the London-based Insight News. The group - British director David Barrie, cameraman Tim Lambon, who has dual South African/British nationality, South African soundman Gugulakhe Radebe and Sierra Leonean film-maker Sorious Samura - was seized for allegedly possessing material for a documentary that was damaging to national security. The men were charged on Monday without their lawyers present and are being held in the capital Monrovia.

Mr Hain said: "I told the Liberian chargé that this was totally unacceptable. Access to their lawyer has only been obtained today following an application ... to enforce what is a basic element of Liberian law." The men's lawyers requested bail yesterday.

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