APRIL 1, 2005
April 7, 2005

Fredrik Sperling, Sveriges Television (STV)

Sperling, a reporter for Sweden’s public broadcaster, Sveriges Television (SVT), was arrested in central Harare and deported to South Africa, despite having been accredited to cover Zimbabwe’s March 31 parliamentary elections.

Sperling, who is based in Johannesburg, told CPJ that he was brought to a police station outside of Harare on March 30 after filming a large farm expropriated several years ago by the Zimbabwean government and now occupied by a relative of President Robert Mugabe. Initially released, Sperling said, he was later arrested and deported by signed order of Tafataona Mahoso, chairman of the government-controlled Media and Information Commission (MIC).

Under Zimbabwe’s draconian media legislation, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), all journalists in the country must register with the MIC or else face criminal prosecution and up to two years in jail. While Zimbabwe’s state media reported that hundreds of foreign journalists were accredited to cover Zimbabwe’s parliamentary elections, dozens were refused accreditation and accused of political bias, including all journalists from the BBC and from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

The editors-in-chief of two STV news programs sent a letter protesting Sperling’s deportation to Zimbabwe’s ambassador in Sweden. Sperling is also appealing the government’s decision to brand him a “prohibited immigrant,” which bars his re-entry into Zimbabwe.