News / Africa

Nyasa Times Editors Seek Asylum in Britain

The Malawi government denies it's seeking to have them deported from Britain

Nyasa Times Editors Seek Asylum in Britain
Nyasa Times Editors Seek Asylum in Britain
Lameck Masina

Editors of the privately owned online publication The Nyasa Times say they’re seeking political asylum. The editors -- based in Leeds -- say Malawi’s government has asked the British High Commission in Lilongwe to help send them home to face charges. Malawian officials deny the allegation.

The Nyasa Times has often been a thorn in the side of Malawi’s authorities and even media groups. The web paper is well known for its criticism of the Malawian government, in general, and President Bingu wa Mutharika, in particular.

Critics say the Times deliberately twists information in an effort to harm authorities. In response, some government officials and media bodies in Malawi have asked the paper’s editors to adhere to journalistic ethics.

Nyasa Times Managing Director, Edgar Chibaka
Nyasa Times Managing Director, Edgar Chibaka

The paper’s publishers deny the paper is biased. The managing director and owner of the web publication, Edgar Chibaka, told VOA the Times is not a government critic, but a mouthpiece for all marginalized groups:

"In a democracy, the government, and especially the president himself, should understand that not everybody else will be on his side."

"We are not necessarily critical of the government, but we are giving the opposition a mouth-piece to channel their views which cannot be heard in parliament, or on state [radio and television]. So, if we don’t stand up for them, where else are their voices going to be heard?"

Chibaka and editor Thom Chiumia, who are members of the London-based Exiled Journalists Network, say Malawi’s government is asking the UK courts to deport them so they can stand trial on charges of publishing seditious material. Those found guilty of sedition can be imprisoned; those found guilty of libel are fined.

Chibaka says "impeccable sources" have told them security agents from Malawi are in Britain, and that the editors will be persecuted if sent home.

Nyasa Times Editor Thom Chiumia
Nyasa Times Editor Thom Chiumia

He says their lives, and also those of their children, are at risk, and that they will all be subjected to "the same torture, degrading treatment and persecution as was the case under [former president] Hastings Kamuzu Banda."

The two men have hired a private immigration lawyer from Leeds to defend them.

The Nyasa Times came under fire before last year’s general elections for publishing a story alleging president Mutharika had fallen ill and was in a coma.

The government and two independent media watch dogs -- the Media Council of Malawi and the Media Institute for Southern Africa -- condemned the story. They asked the online publication to stop publishing articles that they say could cause alarm and panic.

The paper retracted the story, but the government said the move was not made in good faith, because the two men later continued to stand by the article.

In response, the former chief political adviser to the President, Dr Hetherwick Ntaba issued a statement in February 2009 outlining the government's views. Since the two men insisted on defending the story, the statement read, the government would take them to court, "where they will meet the consequences of their dishonest and shameful mercenary journalism."

Ntaba, who was also the spokesperson for the ruling Democratic Progress Party (DPP), said the government was "compiling a full range of their fabrications, apologies and retractions against the President." Ntaba said the editors shouldn’t expect to be sheltered by geographical distance because the government had their contacts and knew where they lived in the United Kingdom.

Ntaba, who is now the General Secretary of the DPP, denied in a VOA interview that the government is orchestrating a move to deport the two men:

"These people have been writing trash all these years. Why would the government be worried about these characters now? They have been living peacefully all these years.... Nobody has interfered with them. [Allegations of government persecution] are a fabrication by Nyasa Times. This is not the first time they [have]spread false stories....."

Ntaba says he doesn’t take the web-based publication seriously: "It’s a publication I don’t respect, and I don’t think any Malawian who knows the truth has any respect for them."

The executive director of the local human rights organization ‘Malawi Watch,’ Billy Banda, has an opposing view:

"I think they are covering important issues of national interest that may not have been covered by any other media house."

Banda says speculation concerning the possible deportation of the Nyasa Times editors may be accurate considering how the government deals with dissent: "We should not only speak about the Nyasa Times. Look at The Nation newspaper today. It is highly squeezed."

He says The Nation has not been able to attract either government or private advertising, a situation that leads him to suspect the government is trying to suppress the publication: "I think the death or demise of [critical media] is a way of going back to dictatorship."

Officials with the British High Commission to Malawi say they cannot comment on individual cases. But in an e-mail, the Political and Public Relations officer, Lewis Kulisewa, said the removal of those who have no right to remain in UK remains a priority for the (British) government.

Editors of Malawi’s privately owned online publication Nyasa Times say they’re seeking political asylum in Britain. The editors -- based in Leeds -- say Malawi’s government has asked authorities at the British High Commission to Malawi to help send them home to face charges. But the Malawi government denies the allegation.

The Nyasa Times has often been a thorn in the side of Malawi’s authorities and even media groups. The Times is well known for its criticism of the Malawian government in general and President Bingu wa Mutharika in particular.

One of the editors, Thom Chiumia, was the president of the now defunct political opposition party ‘New Dawn for Africa’.

Some say the paper has favored the opposition United Democratic Front. Critics say the Times deliberately twists information in an effort to damage the government.

Some government politicians and media bodies in Malawi are asking the paper’s editors to be sure their news coverage follows journalistic ethics. The paper’s publishers deny the paper is biased.

Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, no fan of the controversial website
Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, no fan of the controversial website

The managing director and owner of the web publication, Edgar Chibaka, told VOA the Times is not a government critic, but a mouthpiece for all marginalized groups:

"In a democracy, the government, especially the president himself, should understand that not everybody else will be on his side."

"We are not necessarily critical of the government, but we are giving the opposition a mouth-piece to channel their views which cannot be heard in parliament, or on state [radio and television]. So, if we don’t stand up for them, where else are their voices going to be heard?"

Chibaka and editor Thom Chiumia, who are members of the London based Exiled Journalists Network, say Malawi’s government is asking the UK courts to deport them so they can stand trial on charges of publishing seditious material. Those found guilty of sedition can be imprisoned; those found guilty of libel are fined.

Chibaka says "impeccable sources" have told them security agents from Malawi are in Britain, and that the editors will be persecuted if sent back to Malawi.

Not only are their lives at stake, he adds, but also their children’s lives. He says, "they will also be subjected to the same torture, degrading treatment and persecution as was the case under [former president] Hastings Kamuzu Banda."

The two men have hired a private immigration lawyer from Leeds to defend them.

The Nyasa Times came under fire before last year’s general elections for publishing a story alleging president Mutharika had fallen ill and was in a coma.

The government and two independent media watch dogs -- the Media Council of Malawi and the Media Institute for Southern Africa -- condemned the story. They asked the online publication to stop publishing articles that they say would cause alarm and panic.

The government said the newspaper’s retraction was not made in good faith, because the two men continued to stand by the story after the apology.

The government’s displeasure was made clear in a February, 2009 press release from then chief political adviser to the President, Dr Hetherwick Ntaba. He wrote that since the two men insisted on standing by the story, the government would take them to court, "where they will meet the consequences of their dishonest and shameful mercenary journalism."

Ntaba, who was also the spokesperson for the ruling Democratic Progress Party (DPP), said the government was "compiling a full range of their fabrications, apologies and retractions against the President."

Ntaba said the editors shouldn’t expect to be sheltered by distance because the government knows their contacts and locations in Malawi and the United Kingdom.

Ntaba, who is now the General Secretary of the DPP, denied in a VOA interview that the government is orchestrating a move to deport the editors:

“These people have been writing trash all these years. Why would the government be worried about these characters now? They have been living peacefully all these years; why are they manufacturing their own danger now.

"They have always been in peace to write a lot of trash against the government. Nobody has interfered with them. It’s a fabrication by Nyasa Times. This is not the first time they will spread the false stories against the government."

Ntaba says he doesn’t take the stories of the web-based publication seriously: "They have been writing false things about me. It’s a publication I don’t respect, and I don’t think any Malawian who knows the truth has any respect for them."

The executive director of the local human rights organization ‘Malawi Watch,’ Billy Banda, has an opposing view:

"I think they are covering important issues of national interest that may not have been covered by any other media house."

Banda says speculation concerning the possible deportation of the Nyasa Times editors could be correct considering how the government deals with dissent:

"We should not only speak about the Nyasa Times. Look at The Nation newspaper today. It is highly squeezed."

He says the papers are not given private or public financial support. This creates the fear, Banda says, that the paper is in the process of being suppressed, "I think the death or demise of the media is an automatic way of going back to dictatorship."

The officials of the British High Commission to Malawi say they cannot comment on individual cases. But in an e-mail, the Political and Public Relations officer, Lewis Kulisewa, said the removal of those who have no right to remain in UK remains a priority for the (British) government.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid