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Accredited journalist arrested, his house searched and materials seized

(MISA/IFEX) - On 15 April 2008, freelance journalist Frank Chikowore was arrested in Harare in unclear circumstances.

According to his wife, Chikowore left their home in Harare's suburb of Warren Park early in the morning on his way to work, only to return later in the company of seven policemen, four of whom were in riot gear and three in plainclothes. The police then reportedly searched the house and confiscated a laptop, recorder and camera.

MISA-Zimbabwe could not immediately ascertain at which police station he was being held and, through its Media Defence Fund, has engaged Harare lawyer Harrison Nkomo to look into the matter. Nkomo has visited Harare Central Police Station three times to determine where Chikowore was being held but without any success.

What makes Chikowore's situation even more worrying is that he has been arrested despite being a duly accredited journalist with the Media and Information Commission (MIC), as required by the repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), and is also accredited by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to cover the elections held on 29 March.

The chain of recent arrests under the AIPPA Act confirms that journalists in Zimbabwe have come under heavy scrutiny during and after the elections.

MISA-Zimbabwe is greatly concerned about this turn of events and demands that the police make Chikowore's whereabouts known and disclose the circumstances leading to his arrest.

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