The publisher and a reporter of Zimbabwe's weekly newspaper, The Independent , have been arrested in Harare. Three other newspaper staffers were arrested earlier this week.

Publisher of The Independent, Raphael Khumalo, and reporter Itai Dzamera were charged by police with criminal defamation.

The charges are the same as those made against the editor, news editor, and another reporter at the same newspaper on Monday.

The newspaper carried a report last Friday saying President Robert Mugabe had commandeered an aircraft from the national carrier earlier this month during his annual holiday with his family in Asia.

The government says the report was blasphemous. The Independent newspaper says it stands by the accuracy of its report.

Lawyer for the defense, Linda Cook, said Mr. Khumalo had nothing to do with preparing the report and should be released immediately.

The three Independent journalists arrested earlier are out on bail.