Zimbabwe : Arrest of New York Times’ journalist fuels alarm

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A global media freedom watchdog, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has expressed alarm over the arrest and detention of “New York Times” correspondent, Barry Bearak and called for “his immediate release”, CPJ Press communique disclosed Thursday.

Bearak, who was based in Johannesburg, South Africa, had gone to Zimbabwe to cover the country’s election and was later arrested along side other foreign correspondents for what Zimbabwean police called “violation of the journalism laws.”

“It is imperative that all journalists, foreign and domestic, be allowed to freely cover the important political situation unfolding in Zimbabwe,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon pointed out.

“We call on authorities to immediately release Barry Bearak and to stop intimidating all journalists.”

CPJ further observed that the country has “one of the world’s most restrictive journalist accreditation laws, and has a record of using that law to suppress election coverage.”

According to the media rights body, Zimbabwe government had used the accreditati on law in prior elections to jail foreign journalists.

“In the run-up to parliamentary elections in March 2005, authorities arrested reporter Toby Harnden and photographer Julian Simmonds of London ‘s Sunday Telegraph for allegedly working without accreditation.

The two spent two weeks in jail before they were acquitted and allowed to leave the country.” Panapress.

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