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Center to Protect Journalists Urges Zimbabwe to Release Arrested New York Times Correspondent

FILE: Zimbabwean journalists take part in a march to commemorate World Press Freedom Day in Harare.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says Zimbabwean authorities should immediately release New York Times freelancer Jeffrey Moyo and drop baseless charges against him.

In a statement, CPJ quoted its Africa program coordinator, Angela Quintal, as saying Moyo’s detention is illegal.

Quintal said, “Zimbabwean authorities must immediately release journalist Jeffrey Moyo, who should never have been detained, let alone charged.

“The fact that he was arrested, and his New York Times colleagues forced to leave the country, shows that Zimbabwe continues to violate the right to press freedom and the public’s right to know.”

Moyo is facing charges of violating some provisions of the Immigration Act. The state claims that he allegedly falsified information about the accreditation of two foreign journalists - Christina Goldbaum and Joao Silva.

CPJ quoted Moyo’s lawyer, Douglas Coltart, as saying his client was transferred on Thursday from Harare to the country’s second largest city, Bulawayo.

Goldbaum and Joao Silva arrived in Zimbabwe from South Africa on May 5 and were deported three days later. The Zimbabwe Media Commission accredits local and foreign journalists.

Coltart further told CPJ that Moyo, who also freelances for Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper and Norway’s Bistandsaktuelt, appeared in court Friday and denied the charges being laid against him together with a Zimbabwe Media Commission official, Thabang Manhika.

Coltart has applied for Moyo’s bail and indications are that the case will be heard before a High Court judge on Monday.

In the state’s request for remand presented to the court and viewed by CPJ, prosecutors allege that the accreditation was fake.

Contacted by phone Thursday, Zimbabwe police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi asked CPJ to forward an email so that a statement could be sent. CPJ did not receive a statement by the time of publication.