Zimbabwe Journalist to Spend Weekend in Jail after Tweet

Harare, Jan 9 (AFP/APP): Zimbabwe police have re-arrested award-winning journalist and government critic Hopewell Chin’ono, as well as one of his defenders, for allegedly posting false information on social media, prosecutors and lawyers said. Chin’ono was detained in July last year ahead of banned anti-graft and anti-government protests he backed through his Twitter account.

He was charged with inciting public violence and released on bail one month later. The journalist was behind bars again in November for allegedly obstructing justice after tweeting about a gold smuggling case involving political elites. Another tweet landed Chin’ono back in jail on Friday, this time for sharing a video he claims shows a police officer beating a baby to death in the capital Harare.

“The accused published a false statement to members of the public,” said the request for remand form, adding that he had deliberately intended to “undermine the public confidence” in police officers.

Chin’ono made a brief court appearance on Saturday for his bail hearing, which was postponed to Monday. One of his lawyers, Job Sikhala, was later arrested on his way out of court for sharing the same video. The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights group confirmed the arrest and said Sikhala had been charged with the same offence. His bail hearing is also scheduled for Monday. Chin’ono is openly critical of the Harare administration and regularly posts commentary on social media about social and economic hardship in the southern African country.

The acclaimed documentary producer was first detained shortly after he helped uncover a multi-million dollar corruption scandal involving coronavirus gear. The expose led to the sacking of Zimbabwe’s health minister Obadiah Moyo and implicated the president’s son.

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