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New Zealand Calls For Press Freedom In Zimbabwe

New Zealand Calls For Press Freedom In Zimbabwe

New Zealand's press freedom body has joined international calls for the release of four managers of Zimbabwe's only independent newspaper, The Daily News.

The press freedom committee of the Commonwealth Press Union's New Zealand section labelled the detentions as a flagrant disregard of Zimbabwe's own legal system and the right of free speech. A court ruling last week restored the newspaper's right to publish but the government of President Robert Mugabe closed it on Saturday in defiance of the order.

The Chairman of the press freedom committee, Gavin Ellis, said initial celebration of the court ruling had rapidly turned to outrage when The Daily News was again closed.

"The managers and non-executive directors have been detained in maximum security conditions and have even been denied food parcels that supporters attempted to pass to them," Mr Ellis said. "The Mugabe government is behaving in a way that the international community - to say nothing of Commonwealth leaders - should condemn."

Mr Ellis said the committee felt a strong connection to the Harare newspaper because one of its backers is a New Zealander. Nick Smith, a director of Allied Press - publishers of the Otago Daily Times - is also a shareholder in the London company that owns 40 per cent of The Daily News - the maximum foreign investment permitted in media companies in Zimbabwe.

The press freedom committee represents press, television and radio organisations in matters of free speech.


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