US embassy cable - 01HARARE2429

ARREST OF DAILY NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM

Identifier: 01HARARE2429
Wikileaks: View 01HARARE2429 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Harare
Created: 2001-08-16 13:57:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: KPAO PREL ZI PHUM
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

161357Z Aug 01

 

                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTO2249

PAGE 01        HARARE  02429  161400Z 
ACTION AF-00    

INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    ACQ-00   CIAE-00  DODE-00  DS-00    UTED-00  
      VC-00    TEDE-00  INR-00   VCE-00   NSAE-00  NSCE-00  TEST-00  
      USIE-00  DSCC-00  DRL-02   NFAT-00  SAS-00     /002W
                  ------------------12F3CF  161401Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 9482
INFO SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
UNCLAS HARARE 002429 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR AF/S (KRAFT), AF (BELLAMY), AF/PF (SANDERS, 
ROBERTSON, COX) 
 
NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER 
 
LONDON FOR GURNEY 
 
PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS 
 
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KPAO, PREL, ZI, PHUM 
SUBJECT: ARREST OF DAILY NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM 
 
 
1.   THREE SENIOR MEMBERS OF THE INDEPENDENT "DAILY NEWS" 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  02429  161400Z 
    AND ONE REPORTER FROM THE PAPER WERE ARRESTED IN HARARE ON 
    AUGUST 15.  THE FOUR WERE RELEASED ON BAIL ON THE EVENING 
    OF THE SAME DAY.  THE FOUR ARE EDITOR IN CHIEF GEOFF 
    NYAROTA, DEPUTY EDITOR BILL SAIDI, NEWS EDITOR JOHN 
    GAMBANGA AND REPORTER SAM MUNYAVI.  THE ARRESTS WERE IN 
    RESPONSE TO AN AUGUST 14 FRONT-PAGE STORY IN THE "DAILY 
    NEWS" THAT ALLEGED POLICE VEHICLES WERE USED TO ASSIST 
    PEOPLE LOOTING COMMERCIAL FARMS IN THE CHINOYI AREA. 
 
2.   THE FOUR JOURNALISTS WERE INITIALLY CHARGED WITH 
    VIOLATING SECTIONS OF THE IAN SMITH-ERA "LAW AND ORDER 
    MAINTENANCE ACT" (LOMA).  THAT ACT PROVIDES CRIMINAL 
    PENALTIES FOR PUBLISHING FALSE STATEMENTS, RUMORS OR 
    REPORTS THAT ARE LIKELY TO CAUSE "FEAR, ALARM OR 
    DESPONDENCY AMONG THE PUBLIC OR LIKELY TO DISTURB PUBLIC 
    PEACE."  ACCORDING TO THE PAPER'S LAWYER, THOSE CHARGES 
    WERE DROPPED LATE ON AUGUST 15 AND THE FOUR JOURNALISTS 
    HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH "CRIMINAL DEFAMATION" OF THE 
    ZIMBABWE REPUBLIC POLICE. 
 
3.   NYAROTA WAS ARRESTED AT HIS HOME IN HARARE AT ABOUT 
    0100 ON THE MORNING OF AUGUST 15.  POLICE OFFICIALS WAITED 
    ABOUT AN HOUR FOR NYAROTA TO CONFIRM THAT THEY WERE BONA 
    FIDE POLICE OFFICERS BEFORE TAKING HIM TO HARARE'S CENTRAL 
    POLICE STATION FOR QUESTIONING.  SAIDI, GAMBANGA AND 
    MUNYAVI WERE ARRESTED AT THE "DAILY NEWS" OFFICES AROUND 
    1000 ON AUGUST 15.  NONE OF THE FOUR WAS MISTREATED DURING 
    THEIR ARREST OR DETENTION.  NO COURT DATE HAS BEEN SET TO 
    TRY THE CHARGES AGAINST THE FOUR "DAILY NEWS" JOURNALISTS. 
 
4.   THIS ARREST IS THE THIRD TIME EDITOR NYAROTA HAS BEEN 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  02429  161400Z 
    ARRESTED IN 2001.  THE PREVIOUS OCCASIONS WERE IN APRIL 
    (OVER A STORY ALLEGING THAT PRESIDENT MUGABE AND OTHER 
    GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS RECEIVED ILLEGAL PAYMENTS IN 
    CONNECTION WITH THE CONTRACT TO BUILD THE NEW HARARE 
    AIRPORT) AND MAY (OVER A STORY ALLEGING THAT A US COURT IN 
    NEW YORK HAD RULED IN FAVOR OF CIVIL CLAIMS AGAINST 
    PRESIDENT MUGABE FOR HIS ROLE IN VIOLENCE RELATED TO THE 
    JUNE 2000 PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION). 
 
5.   MUCHADEYI MASUNDA, CEO OF THE COMPANY THAT OWNS THE 
    "DAILY NEWS" SAID THAT THIS INCIDENT WAS PART OF A CAMPAIGN 
    DATING TO APRIL 2000 TO MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE TO CONTINUE 
    PUBLISHING THE NEWSPAPER.  IN APRIL 2000 A SMALL EXPLOSIVE 
    DEVICE WAS DETONATED IN A STOREFRONT IMMEDIATELY BELOW 
    EDITOR NYAROTA'S OFFICE.  IN JANUARY 2001 THE "DAILY NEWS" 
    PRINTING PRESSES WERE COMPLETELY DESTROYED BY EXPLOSIVES. 
    THERE WERE NO INJURIES IN EITHER ATTACK AND NO ARRESTS HAVE 
    BEEN MADE IN EITHER INCIDENT.  MASUNDA SAID THAT THE 
    NEWSPAPER WOULD NOT GIVE UP AND IS DETERMINED TO KEEP 
    "TELLING IT LIKE IT IS." 
 
WHITEHEAD 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
> 

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