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Zimbabwe Authorities Arrest Newspaper Editor - 2002-05-23


Authorities in Zimbabwe have arrested the editor of a privately owned newspaper. This is not the first time that the editor, Bornwell Chakaodza, has been charged under tough new media laws that critics say are making news reporting in Zimbabwe increasingly difficult.

Bornwell Chakaodza is a former editor of the government-controlled Herald newspaper, but was fired from that job two years ago. He later wrote that Zimbabwe's government has abused the media and distorted the news.

A month ago, Mr. Chakaodza became editor of a privately-owned Sunday newspaper, the Standard, and since then has been arrested several times under media laws signed one week after President Robert Mugabe was re-elected in March.

He first was charged after the Standard published a report saying Israel had supplied anti-riot equipment to Zimbabwe police. Two Standard reporters were also arrested and charged.

Mr. Chakaodza also has been charged under censorship laws left over from colonial times for publishing a report and pictures about prostitutes the newspaper said were working in Harare with police protection.

In the latest incident, police summoned the editor to their offices Thursday and charged him and a reporter with violating media laws for a report that said changes are planned in the newsrooms of government-controlled media.

A private group, the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe, says 20 journalists have been charged since mid-March, but none have yet been brought to trial.

Although journalists for foreign media have been arrested, most of those charged are journalists with privately-owned Zimbabwe media.

Government-controlled newspapers in Zimbabwe have lost substantial sales over the past year. The only broadcaster also controlled by the government, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, is reportedly in financial difficulties as many advertisers have deserted it.

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