Zimbabwe Releases Reporter Working for the New York Times


Around mid-May this year, authorities in Zimbabwe detained a freelance writer for The New York Times, accusing him of inappropriately assisting two other Times journalists on a recent reporting trip to Zimbabwe.

Reporter Arrested

It was alleged that Jeffrey Moyo, a Harare-based local journalist, had broken the country’s immigration restrictions. His lawyers, however, claimed that the accusation was false. In a telephone conversation, one of Mr. Moyo’s lawyers, Douglas Coltart, said Mr. Moyo was accused of making a false declaration to enable others to enter Zimbabwe, a violation of the country’s immigration regulations.

According to Mr. Coltart, Mr. Moyo obtained journalist accreditation certificates from the Zimbabwe Media Commission for two Times journalists in South Africa, Christina Goldbaum and Joo Silva, who flew to the city of Bulawayo in May 5.

Mr. Moyo, who lives in Harare with his wife and eight-year-old son, has worked for The New York Times and a number of other publications, including The Globe and Mail of Canada. His detention came at a time when the southern African state was endorsing press freedom.

Mr. Moyo Released on Bail

On Wednesday, i.e three weeks from the date of detention, Jeffrey Moyo, was granted bail and released from a Zimbabwe jail. The government said it would not object to Jeffrey Moyo being granted bail, adding that there was evidence that his actions were purely lawful.

At first, his application to post bail was declined after prosecutors claimed he posed a national security threat. However, the government’s most recent submission stated that he had cooperated with authorities, providing paperwork and invoices for the accreditation.

The reporter, Jeffrey Moyo, was released after a government lawyer stated in a court document that the state did not have a strong case against Mr. Moyo and that the government would not oppose his lawyers’ request to have him freed on bail.

According to Douglas Coltart, one of Mr. Moyo’s attorneys, the court’s ruling to grant bail is a temporary break for Mr. Moyo, who will have to pay a bail fee of 5,000 Zimbabwean dollars and surrender his passport, among other restrictions. That’s because the charges against him, for violating immigration policies by acting illegally to facilitate the entry of journalists, are still pending.

Journalists Seek Freedom

It is not only Moyo’s case that sparks mixed reactions when issues of journalists’ injustices become a topic. Among the people who often risk their lives while out in the field are journalists. Often, they cover controversial topics which tend to attract the attention of many. Needlessly, instead of being celebrated for their discoveries, hard work, they are threatened, fired, or even killed.

At the time of Mr. Moyo’s arrest, there was a flurry of other high-profile government attacks on journalists across Africa, which had elicited worldwide condemnation from news organizations and press freedom campaigners.  Journalists covering the violence in Tigray, for example, including a freelance correspondent for The Times, have been imprisoned, threatened, and had their press credentials revoked in Ethiopia. The authorities in Mozambique ejected a British journalist who was covering a deadly insurrection in the country’s northwestern region in February.

The Committee to Protect Journalists praised Mr. Moyo’s release but urged authorities to go even further.

“We have emphasized from the beginning that Jeffrey Moyo should never have been imprisoned, much less charged, and we reiterate our request for Zimbabwean authorities to withdraw the criminal accusation and allow him to work freely,” said Angela Quintal, the committee’s Africa program coordinator.



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