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Zimbabwean Journalist faces trial for breaking immigration law

By Esther Kalu

 A  Zimbabwe freelance journalist working for the New York Times, Jeffrey Moyo, has appeared in court for breaking immigration laws in the country by collecting bribe and forging documents.

37-year-old Moyo, who was said to have spent  about three weeks in jail last year after his arrest based on accusation of obtaining fake accreditation documents for two of the U.S. newspaper’s journalists Christina Goldbaum and Joao Silva who were on a visit.

Moyo was accompanied by his lawyer Yesterday,  appeared before the court for his trial on the alleged break of law described by critics to have illustrated the authoritarian nature of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

On their part, The New York Times said described the charges  on the journalist as baseless and that a Zimbabwe Media Commission official had issued him papers for the visiting journalists but they were expelled.

According to Moyo, the experience he was made to face because of the accusations was devastating for him, adding that he had to sleep on a bare floor, having no means to reach his family.

However, he said that he was hopeful that everything would go well and most importantly the truth will be revealed to prove his innocence of all the allegations against him.

“It was was a nasty experience, sleeping on the concrete floor and having no contact with my family,” Moyo told Reuters. “It was terrible, but I’m optimistic that things will go well.” he said.

Also, Moyo’s lawyer, Doug Coltart, said that the state has a very weak case, adding that Jeffrey believed he was dealing with a bona fide official of the Zimbabwe Media Commission against the allegations of the government.

Meanwhile, officials were not immediately available to comment on the trial due to take place at a court in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second biggest city. But a spokesperson last year accused Moyo of paying a bribe to break immigration laws.

As gathered, the government of Mnangagwa, who replaced long-serving autocrat Robert Mugabe in a 2017 coup, has testy relations with non-state media. Another prominent reporter, Hopewell Chin’ono, who is critical of the government, has been arrested three times.

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