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There is no crime called ‘committing journalism’ in Zimbabwe
April 27, 2008 5:28 PM   Subscribe

Two reporters, Stephen Bevan of The Sunday Telegraph and Barry Bearak of the New York Times, tell of their ordeal in Zimbabwe. They were arrested for the crime of “committing journalism,” imprisoned, and subsequently released.
posted by found missing (20 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I heard an interview with Mr. Bearak on NPR yesterday- quite a chilling tale. I can only hope I never have to end a foreign travel story with, "...and then we high-tailed it out of the country before the police could re-arrest us."
posted by baphomet at 6:08 PM on April 27, 2008


Bearak's story was pretty impressive. Scary. It's amazing that there is anyone left to do the right thing.
posted by grouse at 6:38 PM on April 27, 2008


The Fox News reporters should cover Zimbabwe. They'd be perfectly safe as there is clearly no chance of them committing actual journalism.
posted by Justinian at 6:51 PM on April 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


What message is Mugabe sending with his choice of moustache?

He likes Charlie Chaplin films perhaps.
posted by mattoxic at 8:44 PM on April 27, 2008


I'm curious why he didn't simply get accredited. I know that some other NPR reporters did so to cover the elections, and the primary complaint was that it cost their news bureaus $1500 and was a bit annoying.

But wouldn't that be a lot less annoying than arrest and scabies?
posted by Project F at 8:51 PM on April 27, 2008


Sounds Dumb. You present the charges as "Committing Journalism" as If to show how blatantly outrageous Mugabe's dictatorship and evil influence is. However, I can tell that that term for the "charge" was directly translated from the Zim language (never a good idea) and contextually has a whole different meaning to Zims. Also I'm sure that when it comes to reporting, any outside journalism is bad news. Foreign Journalism to Zim is what FOX news is to the U.S. (our Democratic idealists and leftist proponents) I'd put my life on it.
posted by Student of Man at 9:23 PM on April 27, 2008


Project F: I'm curious why he didn't simply get accredited.

It says in the Bevan article that the Zimbabwe government was refusing to accredit anyone but journalists from 'friendly' countries (China and Iran.)
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:51 PM on April 27, 2008


The Fox News reporters should cover Zimbabwe. They'd be perfectly safe as there is clearly no chance of them committing actual journalism.

Although, the fraud and conspiracy charges might get them elected or something.
posted by RockCorpse at 10:09 PM on April 27, 2008


Mitrovarr: I guess what really confuses me there is that I heard an NPR piece a week or two ago in which an American journalist for NPR explained the process of accreditation, and noted that she had been successfully accredited along with many others, for $1500 and a day of paperwork.

As such, the timeline strikes me as very strange, in that they were arrested a point when other western journalists (from their own organizations) were successfully getting accredited.

The whole thing is ludicrous by any reasonable standard, but it seems strange.
posted by Project F at 11:33 PM on April 27, 2008


To be fair, the U.S. detains and deports foreign journalists who visit without a special journalist visa.
posted by grouse at 2:11 AM on April 28, 2008


But also to be fair, we give them access to clean, adequate facilities, food, water, toiletries, etc. It sounds like these gentlemen were put in a filthy cage and had the door locked on them- they had to arrange for food to be brought in from the outside or they wouldn't have been able to eat for the duration of their detention.
posted by baphomet at 5:50 AM on April 28, 2008


Agreed. I'd far rather be in the custody of DHS. I only meant to point out that the practice of insisting that journalists have some sort of state approval is not unique to Zimbabwe, but I think that's more a bad thing for the U.S. than a mitigating factor for Zimbabwe.
posted by grouse at 6:04 AM on April 28, 2008


It's almost sad that a post on Zimbabwe gets only 12 comments, and mine was a glib one liner- a post breaking the guidelines gets 198.
posted by mattoxic at 6:27 AM on April 28, 2008


Is it? I don't think it is, actually.
posted by grouse at 6:28 AM on April 28, 2008


We have had a fair number of posts on Zimbabwe recenty though. Assides from the ZOMG Racism metapost they’ve all been fairly quite affairs, mostly just the occasional Homunculus update. That’s possibly because of the largely USian makeup of Metafiler – I can’t remember the last time I saw this story covered on US TV news – or possibly because tehres not much to disagree about except that the situation sucks and will no doubt get worse.
posted by Artw at 9:19 AM on April 28, 2008


Oh, and Student of mans point of view. Hi there!
posted by Artw at 9:21 AM on April 28, 2008


Student of Man: you say
that term for the "charge" was directly translated from the Zim language (never a good idea) and contextually has a whole different meaning to Zims
Can you expand on this? Specifically, what is this whole different meaning?
posted by edd at 9:22 AM on April 28, 2008


"To be fair, the U.S. detains and deports foreign journalists who visit without a special journalist visa."

From the linked article: "In this spirit, the immigration and naturalisation service has been placed, since March 2003, under the jurisdiction of the new department of homeland security. One of its innovations was to revive a law that had been dormant since 1952, requiring journalists to apply for a special visa, known as I-visa, when visiting the US for professional reasons."

This is strange. When I was working in the US between 1996 and 2002 for a British-owned news agency, every British journalist there was on an I visa. Apparently since then this information has been excised from the minds of those working at the Grauniad. If only there was some sort of information discovery methodology they could be trained in...
posted by Auz at 1:41 PM on April 28, 2008


Bit late coming to this. In response to Student of Man's comment about translation of the word "charge", I just wanted to point that the official judicial langauge of Zimbabwe is English. Rather than choose out of the 32 or so other languages existing in Zimbabwe, English was chosen in order to avoid putting any one local language / people above any other.
posted by Onanist at 3:47 AM on April 29, 2008


In other news on the U.S. treatment of foreign journalists, "An al-Jazeera cameraman detained by American forces in Afghanistan was last night released after spending nearly six years imprisoned without charge at Guantánamo Bay."
posted by grouse at 3:03 AM on May 2, 2008


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