Zimbabwe journalists charged over military story

Reuters News
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Posted: May 07, 2013 8:50 AM

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean police arrested the editor of a private newspaper on Tuesday over a report that generals loyal to President Robert Mugabe had assured Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC they were not opposed to him winning elections this year.

The army has publicly denied speaking to Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) officials and police have said that journalists who repeat the claims could fall foul of the southern African nation's tough media laws.

Dumisani Muleya, editor of the Zimbabwe Independent, had been charged with publishing falsehoods, an offence which carries a maximum 20-year jail term, his lawyer, Tawanda Zhuwarara, said.

Independent reporter Owen Gagare and a company official had also been charged with the same offence, Zhuwarara said, adding that the three were being held at Harare's main police station.

The arrests are the latest signs of mounting political tension as a five-year coalition brokered between Mugabe and Tsvangirai after violent elections in 2008 comes to an end, paving the way towards elections in the second half of the year.

(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Ed Cropley)