Chin’ono released but far from free

Zimbabwe freelance journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono

from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – MEDIA rights groups have welcomed the release of Zimbabwean journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono, after over six weeks in detention apparently over trumped up charges.

He has been released from the infamous Chikurubi Maximum Security prison on ZW$10 000 bail (or US$120/R2 020) under strict conditions.

Arrested on July 20 for allegedly inciting the public against the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, his next court appearance is scheduled for September 14.

While his release is welcome, his lawyers disclosed he was unwell, symptoms consistent with coronavirus (COVID-19) but awaiting test results.

“Chin’ono’s pre-trial detention in Chikurubi prison has risked his life during a global pandemic and turned him into a poster child of Zimbabwe’s anti-corruption and good governance movement,” said Angela Quintal, Africa programme coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

The journalist’s arrest is, according to critics, based on his outspokenness of government corruption.

His incarceration came days ahead of planned ant-corruption protests scheduled for end of July.

“Authorities must immediately drop the vindictive and meritless charges against him and let him live and work freely,” Quintal said.

Bail conditions require Chin’ono to surrender his passport, report to a Harare police station every Monday and Friday and surrender title deeds for a property he owns.

He must stop using his Twitter account to “incite the holding of mass demonstrations.”

– CAJ News

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