Pressure Mounts For Govt To Free Jailed New York Times Journalist

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THE SA National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) has supported a call by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) for Zimbabwean authorities to release New York Times freelance journalist Jeffrey Moyo who was arrested last week on charges of supplying fake press credentials to two visiting colleagues from the same paper.

Moyo was arrested on May 26 in Harare, and charged with violating Section 36 of the country’s immigration laws for allegedly misrepresenting the accreditation of his colleagues Christina Goldbaum and Joao Silva, his lawyer Doug Coltart told the CPJ.

Silva and Goldbaum were deported on May 8, allegedly for not having proper accreditation from the Zimbabwe Media Commission, while Moyo has been jailed in Bulawayo pending his court appearance.

“The fact that he was arrested, and his New York Times colleagues forced to leave the country, shows that Zimbabwe continues to violate the right to press freedom and the public’s right to know,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa programme coordinator.

According to the CPJ, the New York Times is assisting Moyo’s lawyers to secure his release.

“Jeffrey is a widely respected journalist with many years of reporting experience in Zimbabwe and his detainment raises troubling questions about the state of press freedom in Zimbabwe,” said New York Times spokesperson Nicole Taylor.

Moyo also freelances for Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper and Norway’s Bistandsaktuelt.

Moyo was due to appear in a Bulawayo magistrate’s court with a co-accused, Zimbabwe Media Commission official Thabang Manhika.

The Zimbabwe Media Commission said in a statement e-mailed to the CPJ that two individuals “claiming to be New York Times reporters” had been deported after having obtained “forged” accreditation from “a properly accredited local reporter for the same New York Times with the alleged collusion of a ZMC member of staff”.

Moyo had denied allegations of faking accreditation details, said Coltart.

Silva, the renowned SA photojournalist who lost his legs in a landmine incident while covering the conflict in Afghanistan, was one of the four members of SA’s famed “Bang Bang Club” who covered the roiling turmoil in the country’s townships in the run-up to the 1994 elections.