CPJ calls for release of journalist

New York, March 28, 2002
—CPJ calls for the release of journalist Peta Thornycroft, the Zimbabwe correspondent for South Africa’s Mail and Guardian and Britain’s Daily Telegraph.

Yesterday, Thornycroft was arrested in the rural town of Chimanimani, 300 miles southeast of the capital, Harare, where she was investigating reports that supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party were attacking members of the political opposition.

She was interrogated for five hours and accused of violating the Public Order and Security Act, which makes it an offense to “publish or communicate false statements prejudicial to the state.” The law specifically criminalizes statements that “incite or promote public disorder or public violence.”

“Peta Thornycroft was doing nothing more than her job,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “She should be released immediately and unconditionally.”

Thornycroft is currently in detention, but it is unclear whether she will be formally charged. She faces five years in prison or a Z$100,000 fine (US$1,877) if charged and convicted.