Zimbabwean authorities have detained two editors and a journalist working for state-controlled media for publishing a story connecting senior police officers to a poaching gang, Amnesty International said.
The Sunday Mail’s editor, Mabasa Sasa, investigative editor Brian Chitemba and reporter Chinawo Farawo were arrested on Monday, the London-based rights group said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday. They were charged with publishing "falsehoods" after running a story that said Zimbabwean police were part of a criminal syndicate slaughtering elephants for their tusks in Hwange National Park.
The arrests mark the latest attempt to intimidate the media in Zimbabwe and could have a "chilling effect" that will discourage reporting that exposes authorities for breaking the law, the group said.
Calls to the Harare Central Police Station and police spokeswoman Charity Charamba weren’t answered when Bloomberg News sought comment on Tuesday.
The three journalists are scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, Amnesty said. While dozens of journalists who have faced the same charges in the past in Zimbabwe were acquitted, the media should be free to work without fear of harassment or intimidation, the group said.
Dozens of elephants have died of cyanide poisoning and had their tusks removed in Hwange National Park this year, according to Zimbabwean wildlife officials.