Zim journalist detained for third time in five weeks

A freelance Zimbabwean photojournalist was released on Tuesday after spending a night in police cells for filming prisoners outside a court.

It was his third arrest in five weeks, despite the government’s public commitment to media freedom, lawyers said.

Andrison Manyere was seized by prison officers outside the Harare Magistrate’s Court while filming a group of alleged coup plotters who have been awaiting trial for more than three years. He was accused of taking footage without permission, said colleagues who witnessed the incident.

He was charged with disorderly conduct and agreed to pay a fine of $20, said lawyer Kumbirai Mafunda. The fine also secured Manyere’s freedom. A challenge of the arrest and charge is planned.

Manyere was abducted by secret police in December 2008, tortured at length, and then held with about 30 other abductees for four months on charges of banditry and sabotage. They were finally released after the Supreme Court ruled they could not be tried because they had been tortured.

In January he was arrested for filming a pro-democracy demonstration. In late February, a mob affiliated with the youth wing of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party seized him and forced him to delete footage of a march they had conducted through Harare.

Despite its public statements, Zimbabwe’s government has been criticised by media organisations.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned Manyere’s arrest and accused authorities of detaining him on insubstantial accusations. CPJ programme coordinator Tom Rhodes called for the government to stop harassing Manyere.—Sapa-dpa



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