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Zimbabwe31 March 2002

Peta Thornycroft was unconditionally released

On 31 March 2002, Peta Thornycroft, the correspondent for the British Daily Telegraph was unconditionally released. High Court judge Mohammed Adam found no reason for charging the journalist with "publishing false information" and "incitement to violence". She was cleared of every charge.

28.03.2002 - British journalist liable to two years in jail

image 125 x 118 (JPEG) In a letter addressed to Patrick Chinamasa, Zimbabwean justice minister, Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontieres - RSF) expressed its indignation at the arrest of Peta Thornycroft, the Harare correspondent for the British Daily Telegraph. "Just a few days ago the government threatened to sue the independent daily by virtue of the law on access to information and protection of private life, promulgated a few days after Robert Mugabe was re-elected. The message is clear: this law is simply a tool to stifle dissident voices" said Robert Ménard, the organisation’s general secretary. "Zimbabwe is arrogantly showing just how little it cares about the international community’s concern. It is high time that the European Union and the United States, like the Commonwealth, take much stronger sanctions than symbolic ones", he added. The organization called for the unconditional release of Peta Thornycroft.

On 27 March 2002, according to information gathered by RSF, Peta Thornycroft, Harare correspondent for the British Daily Telegraph, was arrested in Chimanimani, 480km southeast of the capital. She was charged with "publishing false informations" and "incitement to violence". In terms of the recent law on access to information, the journalist is liable to a sentence of two years in jail and a fine of 100,000 Zimbabwean dollars. She was doing a survey on repression of the main opposition party, the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change).

RSF also noted that in a letter addressed to Daily News editor-in-chief Geoffrey Nyarota on 25 March 2002, information minister Jonathan Moyo threatened to sue the journalist by virtue of the new law on access to information and protection of private life if the daily failed to publish a correction concerning an article published 3 days earlier. In that article the Daily News had reported a resolution drawn up by the European Union and Africa-Caribbean-Pacific countries calling for a new presidential election. According to Article 80 of the highly controversial information law, promulgated on 15 March 2002, journalists found guilty of falsifying or fabricating news are liable to a 2-year jail sentence and a fine of 100,000 Zimbabwean dollars (2,067.39 euros). Geoffrey Nyarota denied publishing "counter-truths" and flatly refused to publish a correction, in the name of his newspaper’s "independence".

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