Freelance Reporter for The New York Times Is Put on Trial in Zimbabwe

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Mr. Coltart said he would be seeking to separate the prosecution of his client from that of Mr. Manhika.

The decision to proceed with the case against Mr. Moyo, Mr. Coltart said, was “not surprising given that there have been some very public attacks on the independence of the judiciary under the government.”

Perhaps the most notable of these attacks have been directed at an award-winning investigative journalist and activist, Hopewell Chin’ono, who was prosecuted in 2020 on charges he had supported banned demonstrations on social media. A court in Harare, the capital, dropped the case in December, which Mr. Chin’ono described as an admission it had been trumped up from the start.

Some Zimbabwean journalists have privately expressed fears that the prosecution of Mr. Moyo was unnerving partly because of his reputation as a highly professional freelancer who has no political agenda. If it can happen to him, they argue, it can happen to anyone.

Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The New York Times, said in a statement: “We are deeply troubled by the prosecution of Jeffrey Moyo, which appears designed to chill press freedom in Zimbabwe. Jeffrey is a widely respected journalist with many years of reporting experience in Zimbabwe.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an advocacy group based in New York, has been outspoken in its criticism of Zimbabwe over Mr. Moyo’s prosecution, particularly since the government acknowledged the weaknesses in the case six months ago. If prosecutors do not drop the case, said Angela Quintal, the group’s Africa program coordinator, that “would simply reinforce perceptions that prosecutors are acting in bad faith and are using Moyo as an example to censor and intimidate the press in Zimbabwe.”

Mr. Moyo, who has a wife and young son, has described the prosecution as an ordeal, requiring numerous trips between Bulawayo and Harare, his home base, 270 miles away.

“I hope this case just ends,” he said. “I long for my freedom. I want to work peacefully.”



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