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2 Zimbabwe Journalists Arrested on Charges of Insulting President Mugabe

Zimbabwe's only privately-owned daily newspaper is under fire from the government. Two senior journalists and three executives of the Daily News have been arrested in the last two weeks.

On Monday, the chief executive at the Daily News, Sam Nkomo, and his commercial director, Moreblessings Mpofu, were accused by police of publishing advertisements insulting to President Robert Mugabe.

The company's lawyer, Gutulethu Moyo, who went to the police station with the two executives, was herself briefly arrested and accused of inciting the public to demonstrate against the government and for refusing to take orders from the police.

This is not Miss Moyo's first run-in with the police. Earlier this year she was allegedly assaulted at a police station when she tried to gain the release of a photographer who works for the Daily News. Among those she accuses of assaulting her is the wife of Zimbabwe's army commander.

All three executives of the paper are now back at work and will appear in court at some time in the months ahead.

Last month, the editor and editor in chief of the Daily News were accused of violating Zimbabwe's media laws by publishing information that allegedly denigrated the image of President Robert Mugabe. They are also back at work and awaiting trial.

The Daily News began publishing four years ago and since then almost all its senior staff have been arrested at various times.

The founding editor of the paper, Geoff Nyarota, was arrested several times and finally had to flee Zimbabwe. He is now on a scholarship at Harvard University in the United States.

Andrew Moyse, director of the Media Monitoring Project in Zimbabwe, said Tuesday the latest arrests were part of the ongoing persecution of Zimbabwe's most popular newspaper. He said the government wanted to silence alternative sources of information.

The Zimbabwe government controls all radio and television stations in the country, and until the appearance of the Daily News, it controlled the daily press market too.