The International Federation of Journalists today described the decision by Zimbabwe to deport Andrew Meldrum, veteran Africa correspondent, as a low point in the continuing struggle for press freedom in the country. “The twilight world of independent journalism has been rendered dark by this malicious and spiteful act from the regime of Robert Mugabe,” said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ.
The IFJ says that the deportation of Meldrum, the Guardian correspondent who has lived in Zimbabwe for the last 23 years, will be vigorously condemned by journalists and press freedom groups worldwide. “This is another blatant attempt to penalize dissent, stifle criticism, and undermine those who are fighting for democracy and human rights,” said White.
Meldrum’s deportation came despite attempts by lawyers and senior Guardian executives to plead with the authorities to allow him to carry on working. Today, Meldrum was told by immigration officials that he was being deported and was taken straight to the airport. Meldrum, who is a US citizen has been harassed for more than a year and was one of the first journalists to be prosecuted under draconian media law which was struck down by the Supreme Court last week. Meldrum had been acquitted on allegations that he had published false information about Zimbabwe, but he suffered continual harassment leading, in the end to today’s deportation order.
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The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries