Swaziland releases Bheki Makhubu after 15 months in jail

New York, June 30, 2015–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes today’s decision by the Swaziland Supreme Court to release from prison Bheki Makhubu, the editor of The Nation, who has been in jail since March 2014 along with human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko, after the crown prosecution said it would not defend an appeal against their conviction, according to news reports.

Makhubu and Maseko were jailed in March 2014 and sentenced in July that year to two years’ imprisonment for contempt of court over articles they wrote criticizing the conduct of Swaziland’s chief justice Michael Ramodibedi, who has since been fired, according to reports.

“We applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to release Bheki Makhubu and are relieved that he is free to rejoin his wife and family after 14 difficult months,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Sue Valentine. “Makhubu’s prosecution was vindictive from the start, and we call on Swazi authorities to ensure that this brings to an end the legal battles he has endured for his critical journalism over the past four years.”