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By Agencies
24/03/04

AN independent film maker in Zimbabwe was arrested and charged under security laws on "suspicion" he helped to make a recent BBC documentary about the country's controversial youth training camps, his lawyer said.

Beatrice Mtetwa said her client Simon Bright was arrested last Friday as he tried to board an Air Zimbabwe plane to London.

He was detained for the weekend by police and questioned on whether he worked for "outside broadcasters", Mtetwa said.

The lawyer said Bright was asked whether he was involved in making the BBC's recent Panorama programme that claimed thousands of Zimbabwean youths are being trained in special camps to torture and intimidate opponents of President Robert Mugabe's government.

"The suspicion is that he was involved in that" Panorama documentary, Mtetwa said, but denied any link.

Bright was released on Monday afternoon after being charged under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) for communicating "a statement which is wholly or materially false", Mtetwa added.

Mtetwa told AFP that Bright, an established film maker who focuses on development and conservation issues, was taking a tape to clients in London who had commissioned him to make a documentary on a game park in southern Zimbabwe.

Mtetwa said police were "unable to say what was offensive" about the tape, adding that various government departments were involved in the making of the documentary.

Under Zimbabwe's strict security laws, the communication of false statements carries a fine or a five-year prison term on conviction - AFP
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