MONROVIA, Liberia — Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a former international banker and leading political opponent of the Liberian government, has fled to the United States, police and opposition sources said Monday.
Johnson-Sirleaf, 46, a senator for the opposition Liberia Action Party twice jailed by President Samuel K. Doe, is believed to have slipped out of Liberia in a small commercial plane, they said. The government had banned her from international travel.
Hene D. Johnson, assistant secretary for public affairs of the three-party opposition coalition, said Johnson-Sirleaf left Liberia a week ago.
Johnson-Sirleaf reportedly issued a statement to West African correspondents after arriving in the United States in which she said she fled in fear of her life and needed medical attention after being jailed for seven months. Her exact whereabouts were not immediately known.
Johnson-Sirleaf was arrested along with 400 other people after an abortive attempt to overthrow Doe in November, 1985.
She was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment but released in a general amnesty ordered by Doe in response to U.S. pressure. However, her passport was seized.