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American journalist charged under AIPPA

An American Andrew Meldrum who was writing for the British newspaper The Guardian was facing trial for contravening a section of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act for publishing a false story.

Meldrum filed a story with The Guardian which said ZANU-PF supporters had beheaded a 53-year-old woman. The story was not true.

He was one of about a dozen journalists facing charges under the act.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 02HARARE1375, AMERICAN JOURNALIST WILL FACE TRIAL

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

02HARARE1375

2002-06-06 09:36

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 001375

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/S (KRAFT), AF/PD (COX/ROBERTSON)

 

NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER

 

LONDON FOR GURNEY

 

PARIS FOR NEARY

 

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PREL PHUM KPAO ZI

SUBJECT: AMERICAN JOURNALIST WILL FACE TRIAL

 

 

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET POSTING.

 

1.   (U) American citizen Andrew Meldrum, the Zimbabwe

correspondent for the “Guardian” (UK) newspaper, will be

tried on June 12 for violating a section of the Access to

Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). Meldrum

was arrested on May 1 and charged with “abusing

journalistic privilege by publishing falsehoods,” a

violation of AIPPA. The charges stem from a story Meldrum

filed with the “Guardian” regarding the now-disproven case

of a woman beheaded by ruling party supporters. Meldrum

spent the night of May 1 in jail, but was released on

personal recognizance on May 2 and has been free since.

 

2.   (U) Meldrum is one of approximately 12 journalists in

Zimbabwe who have been charged with violating AIPPA since

President Mugabe signed the piece of shit in mid-March

2002. Meldrum is the only non-Zimbabwean to face AIPPA

charges thus far. Some of the other journalists have been

arrested several times, most notably “Standard” editor

Bornwell Chakaodza, arrested 5 times in two weeks.

 

3.   (SBU) We have it on very good authority that the state

prosecutor in the Meldrum case saw no merit in the charges

and had decided not to proceed. On May 28, he was

preparing to withdraw the case at the Magistrate’s Court in

Harare. Just before doing so, he was called out of to a

meeting. After a 20-minute absence, the prosecutor

returned to his office and informed Meldrum that the case

“must proceed.” We do not know with whom the prosecutor

met during his 20-minute absence, but we do know that

Information Minister Jonathan Moyo was in the Magistrate’s

Court building at precisely the same time as the

prosecutor’s mysterious change of heart.

 

SULLIVAN

(21 VIEWS)

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