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Plainclothes officers storm privately-owned Mobi TV

(MISA/IFEX) - On 17 June 2009 at about 11:00 p.m. (local time), Mobi TV, a Lusaka-based and privately-owned television station, was raided by four plainclothes police officers demanding a copy of the live programme "Meet your MP," which had featured an outspoken opposition Patriotic Front (PF) Member of Parliament.

Chishimba Kambwili, the MP for Roan constituency in the Copperbelt province of Zambia, was featured on the programme, which is broadcast every Wednesday. The MP commented, among other issues, on the controversial reappointment of a former transport minister, Dora Siliya, to the Education Ministry. Earlier this year, Siliya resigned after being found guilty by an independent tribunal of a breach of the constitution as a result of her disregard for advice from the Attorney General's Office in the conduct of her duties.

In an interview with MISA Zambia, Madube Pasi, the station's managing editor, said that the officers asked for a copy of the programme without producing their police IDs or a warrant. Mobi TV's general manager, Sandra Sweetman, explained that no reasons were given why the police wanted a copy of the programme. The programme is repeated on Thursday at 4:00 p.m. and the station says it will run the programme because it had done nothing wrong.

"We have done nothing wrong, we will not withdraw it," says Sweetman.

MISA Zambia Chairperson Henry Kabwe condemned the action by the police and described it as a violation of press freedom and free expression. He added that this action is meant to intimidate the station to stop it from featuring persons deemed critical of the state. Kabwe said that the action amounted to censorship of the station.

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