HARARE, ZIMBABWE — A Zimbabwean newspaper editor faces sedition and other charges for creating a Facebook account that he allegedly used to reveal government secrets and insult the country’s president, a prosecutor said Saturday.
The case against Edmund Kudzayi editor of the state-owned Sunday Mail was the latest in string of cases brought by President Robert Mugabe’s government that critics say are aimed at shutting down independent media in the troubled African nation.
Kudzayi did not enter a plea when he appeared in a Harare court Saturday, two days after his arrest. He was ordered held until a bail hearing Monday.
“He is facing two charges; the first one is subverting the constitutional government; attempting to commit an act of terrorism, insurgency, banditry or sabotage,” State Prosecutor Tawanda Zvekare said. “The second one is undermining authority or insulting the president.”
Zvekare also said Kudzayi’s Facebook page referred to Mugabe as a tyrant or a dictator who stole elections.
Prior to last year’s election, Kudzayi was based in Britain. He and Mduduzi Mathuthu, who now edits a sister paper called the Chronicle, used to run several online newspapers critical of Mugabe.
He faces life in prison if convicted.
Under Mugabe, Zimbabwe has instituted one of Africa's toughest media laws which has resulted in a crackdown on journalists. The government has indicated that it wants to repeal or amend some of the laws in line with the new constitution enacted last year, though journalism advocates doubt the government’s sincerity.
Elsewhere in Africa, a prominent Somali journalist was killed Saturday when his car exploded as he drove to work in the capital Mogadishu.
Police said they believe a remotely controlled bomb was attached to the car of Yusuf Ahmed Abukar, who also used the name Yusuf Keynan.
Abukar worked for the private Mogadishu FM station Mustaqbal and also contributed to a Kenya-based United Nations radio service.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Mogadishu has been hit by a string of attacks by al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab rebels who are fighting to overthrow Somalia’s fragile government.
Some information for this report was contributed by AFP.