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Toronto journalist threatened over article on Zimbabwe's political situation

(CJFE/IFEX) - The following is CJFE press release:

CJFE Concerned by Threats Made to Toronto Journalist

(Toronto, Jan. 11, 2008) - CJFE is concerned by reports that Toronto-based journalist Innocent Madawo has received threatening phone calls. Earlier this week, Madawo had written an article on the subject of the political situation in Zimbabwe as it approaches elections in March.

Madawo's opinion piece was sent out by e-mail on January 7, 2008, to journalistic colleagues and was published on the website of the London-based Zimbabwean independent radio station, SWRadio Africa ( http://www.swradioafrica.com/pages/zimexile080108.htm ). It resulted in a phone call the next day with the warning "Mr. Madawo, you must be careful about what you write. Uchakuvarira zvinhu vausingazivi. (You will be hurt for things you don't know). Uzalimala (you will be hurt), you hear me!?" The phone call, placed to Madawo's home phone, used all three official languages of Zimbabwe (English, Ndebele and Shona).

Toronto police have been informed about the threats, and are said to be taking them seriously and are attempting to trace the call.

"I am not taking this lightly," stated Madawo, considering "the killing and torture of colleagues in Zimbabwe, the near fatal shooting of ZimOnline editor, Abel Mutsakani, in Johannesburg last year and the circulation of lists of marked Zimbabwean journalists."

Madawo writes for several Canadian newspapers and is the publisher of The Southern African.com. He lives in Toronto, Canada with his family, but is originally from Zimbabwe.

CJFE takes this matter very seriously and urges police to be vigilant in offering Innocent Madawo any protection at their disposal. We hope that Canada ensures that all residents are able to exercise their right to free expression in safety.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is an association of more than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and around the world.

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