INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Arrest of Daily News Editorial Team

Published: Thu 16 Aug 2001 01:57 PM
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
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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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