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US warns Zimbabwe against intimidating the press

By Staff Writer

THE United States embassy in Harare has warned government against the practice of manipulating the courts in a manner which corrodes press freedom.

The remarks come against a background where journalist Jeffrey Moyo’s case continues to linger on  at the courts amid concerns that the state has no solid case against the scribe.

“The Zimbabwean government’s use of questionable charges and the courts to intimidate independent journalists like Jeffrey Moyo undermines a free press and corrodes democracy,” said the US embassy Friday.

The remarks come shortly after Bulawayo  regional magistrate, Mark Nzira, this week dismissed New York Times Correspondent Jeffrey Moyo’s application for discharge, ruling that the state had proffered enough evidence for the scribe to be put to his defence.

Moyo who was being jointly charged with Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) official, Thabang Manhika is facing charges of breaching sections of the Immigration Act.

 Nzira last week acquitted Manhika .The trio were being accused of assisting two American journalists Christina Goldbaum and Joao Silva to illegally enter the country and promising them temporary press cards despite the fact that the scribes had been denied entry by the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting Services and Publicity.

The Committee on the Protection of Journalists program coordinator , Angela Quintal has since issued a statement condemning Moyo’s continued trial.

“We are disappointed that more than nine months after his arrest, and after 21 days in detention and countless hours in court, journalist Jeffrey Moyo was not acquitted of the spurious charges relating to his work with his colleagues at The New York Times.

The decision to deny the defense’s application to dismiss the case is doubly troubling as Moyo’s co-accused was acquitted in a separate trial last week and simply reinforces perceptions that the case is being used to intimidate the independent press in Zimbabwe,” she said.

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