Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai is facing charges of treason as Zimbabwean authorities step up their investigations into allegations that he planned to assassinate President Robert Mugabe. Mr. Tsvangirayi denies the charges and has over the past week claimed that he was set up.

Last week, the state run television station ZBC said that Mr. Tsvangirayi was interviewed for two hours at the Criminal Investigations Department headquarters in Harare before being released on a warned and cautioned statement. He was taken to the Police Station today for fingerprints and later summoned in court, where he was formally charged.

His lawyer, Innocent Chagonda of the Harare based law firm Atherstone and Cooke speculated last week that police might formally charge Mr. Tsvangirayi if their investigations came up with what he called ?sufficient evidence of first instance?. Zimbabwe Republic Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena says the force has carried out its investigations and the interview they had with Tsvangirai was a part of those inquiries.

The allegations against the leader of the main opposition party surfaced after an Australian television network showed a video clip of an alleged meeting between Mr. Tsvangirai and representatives of a consulting firm, Dickens and Madison. It is alleged that the planned assassination was discussed during that meeting.

The principal of Dickens and Madison, former Israeli intelligence agent Ari Ben Menashe, was in Zimbabwe last week to give his statement to the Zimbabwe Republic Police. Mr. Menashe is believed to have left more footage of the alleged meeting, which political analysts here say should constitute the main evidence to be used by the state.

University of Zimbabwe Political analyst, Dr. John Makumbe, dismisses the allegations, saying they are only meant to scare Mr. Tsvangirai into fleeing the country.