UK Times journalist arrest denounced

HARARE - Press freedom groups have slammed the arrest of Jan Raath a veteran foreign correspondent for The UK Times over a story authorities claim was false.

The correspondent for the British newspaper was interrogated for two hours on Wednesday over publication of a story alleging that the government had stitched up a secret deal to export uranium raw materials to Iran for the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

Foster Dongozi, Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (Zuj) secretary-general, said: “The police should not violate the rights of the colleague and we condemn any criminalisation of journalism. There are also many sides to that story, there is a political side, after elections Zimbabwe does not want to be labelled a rogue state associated with the unsavoury given the fact that Zanu PF wants re-engagement with the world.”

Tabani Moyo, national advocacy officer for the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, said: “We strongly condemn the arrest of journalists by the State. Anyone aggrieved by media reports should approach the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) for recourse. The State should lead by example in respecting the constitution on media freedoms Section 61 and 62.”

According to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, four police officers pitched up at Raath’s residence in Harare’s Meyrick Park suburb and took him to Harare Central Police Station for interrogation over his contribution to the alleged uranium deal story.

Raath allegedly co-authored the story with Jerome Starkey, Michael Evans and Hugh Tomlinson. The story was published in the British newspaper last Saturday.

Police charged the journalists for “publication or communication of false statements prejudicial to the State.”

Yesterday, the veteran journalist returned to Harare Central Police Station’s Law and Order Section, where he appended his signature to an affidavit detailing his contribution to the newspaper article after interrogations which lasted for an hour.

Human rights groups said the police then advised Raath to “go and relax at home and continue with your duties.”

Comments (1)

I wish to support the protest.

Mirza Khan Raja - 2 May 2016

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