Guardian reporter deported

New York, May 16, 2003—Zimbabwean immigration officials today deported Andrew Meldrum, Zimbabwe correspondent for the U.K.-based Guardian newspaper, from the country.

Officials at Harare Airport forced Meldrum onto a London-bound Air Zimbabwe flight, ignoring a high court order staying the reporter’s deportation and instructing authorities to produce Meldrum for a court hearing on his expulsion. Meldrum was accused of being an “undesirable inhabitant” of Zimbabwe in reprisal for his critical reporting on the government.

According to The Guardian, this evening, immigration officers at the airport ran away from Meldrum’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, to avoid being served with another court order demanding Meldrum’s immediate release and forbidding his deportation. Meldrum was barred contact with anyone while he was in custody at the airport.

“We are appalled and dismayed by the deportation of Andrew Meldrum, and the utter disregard that the government of Zimababwe has shown for press freedom and the rule of law,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper.