Reporters Without Borders today condemned charges laid against
Mike Chipalasa, of the privately-owned Daily Times, and its managing
editor, James Mphande, for “publishing false news likely to lead to a
breach of public order”.
The charges relate to an article
carried by the paper on 14 January which included remarks by opposition
leader, John Tembo, that the government had “brought foreign experts
into the country so that the 2009 elections will go in favour of the
[ruling] Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)” .
“It appears that this entire case is just a bid by the government
to intimidate and silence journalists who quote the opposition”, the
worldwide press freedom organisation said.
“We urge the
authorities and Malawi’s justice system to halt these proceedings
against our colleagues, whose work is not just to report comments which
are favourable to the government.”
Police arrested Chipalasa
on 2 February and questioned him for several hours about the article
quoting the opposition leader. He was released on bail on 3 February.
Head of the criminal investigation department, Davie Nyongo, said that
James Mphande, whose by-line was also on the article, was also being
sought for questioning.
Both journalists have been charged and
Chipalasa has been summoned to appear in court on 15 February. He faces
up to six months in prison.