The Vienna-based International Press Institute, the IPI, has sent an open letter to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe criticizing the arrest of journalist Peta Thornycroft.
Ms. Thornycroft files stories for Britain?s Daily Telegraph, the Voice of America and other media outlets. She is the first journalist to be charged under the new Public Order and Security Act; she is accused of publishing false statements likely to be prejudicial to state security and inciting violence.
IPI editor David Badge calls this a test case of the new law. He says the arrest is yet another attempt by the Mugabe government to intimidate the independent media and hinder the free flow of information. He says it?s unclear whether Ms. Thornycroft will receive a fair trial in Zimbabwe, adding the IPI is calling on the Zimbabwean government to drop all charges against her.
Mr. Badge spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua.