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Zimbabwe12 May 2003

Journalist goes into hiding

Reporters Without Borders today called on the Zimbabwe government to stop its continuous harassment of Andrew Meldrum, local correspondent for the British daily The Guardian, who has gone into hiding after immigration officials visited his home, apparently intending to deport him.

"Last year, he was thrown into jail like a criminal for two days and then cleared by the High Court, but security officials are still harassing him," said the organisation’s secretary-general, Robert Ménard. "He is one of the last foreign journalists left in the country and is being very closely watched. The authorities must leave him alone and let him do his job freely and safely."

Immigration officials went to his house in Harare at night on 7 May but he was not at home. They refused to say what they wanted with him. His lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, said as soon as legal procedures were respected, he would be at the disposition of the legal authorities He would remain in hiding until the reasons for the visit were disclosed.

Meldrum, a US citizen and legal Zimbabwe resident who has covered the country for The Guardian for 22 years, was arrested on 30 April with two journalists from the independent newspaper The Daily News. All three were jailed for two days and then freed provisionally. They were accused of publishing "falsehoods." The High Court acquitted Meldrum on 15 July.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is on the Reporters Without Borders worldwide list of 42 predators of press freedom.

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