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Cablegate: Anothter Media Trial Begins

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 001564

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/PD, AF/S, AF/RA
NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER
PARIS FOR NEARLY
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM KPAO ZI
SUBJECT: ANOTHTER MEDIA TRIAL BEGINS


1. The trial for independent "Daily News" reporter
Lloyd Mudiwa, charged with violating the country's
controversial Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA), opens in Harare on June 20.
Mudiwa is accused of having abused journalistic
privilege by reporting false information. His trial
comes hard on the heels of Andrew Meldrum's trial that
opened in Harare last week, also facing similar
charges. Meldrum, an U.S. national writing for
Britain's "Guardian" newspaper, reproduced an article
by Lloyd Mudiwa carried in the "Daily News" newspaper
in April about a "beheaded woman." The story has since
been disproved.

2. Meanwhile, Andrew Meldrum, the first journalist to
be tried under AIPPA, yesterday sought High Court
permission to have his case referred to the Supreme
Court of Zimbabwe as a constitutional matter. He is
challenging the constitutionality of AIPPA. Yesterday
the magistrate reserved judgment on the application,
saying she needed time to examine the documents filed
by Meldrum before making a ruling.

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3. In the meantime, journalists from Zimbabwe's
private media this week vowed to defy a requirement
that they register under a government-appointed media
commission. According to an article carried in the
June 20 edition of the independent weekly "The
Financial Gazette," members of the Independent
Journalists Association of Zimbabwe (IAJ) resolved not
to comply with the Media Commission requirements that
journalists apply for accreditation. Zimbabwe's
journalists and media houses were given until June 16
to accredit or register with the Mahoso commission or
risk being prosecuted for violating AIPPA provisions.

4. Under headline "Zimbabwe journalism goes on trial
today," the independent daily "The Daily News"
dedicated its June 20 editorial to the significance of
the Mudiwa trial.

"Today, our reporter Lloyd Mudiwa appears in
court, charged under the AIPPA. It is `The
Daily News' on trial. . . The result, either
way, will set a precedent with a potential to
change the manner in which we speak or speak out
against anything in our beleaguered country. . .
The consequences of Mudiwa's case, preceded by
that of Andrew Meldrum. . . are set to resonate
beyond our borders. They threaten to change the
face of our journalism."

SULLIVAN

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