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Zimbabwe editor charged with attempted terrorism, insurgency

Source: Reuters - Sat, 21 Jun 2014 15:38 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* Editor faces life sentence if convicted

* Blogger claimed to be a ZANU-PF "Deep Throat"

HARARE, June 21 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe on Saturday laid attempted terrorism, insurgency and banditry charges against the editor of a state-run newspaper, accusing him of being an anonymous Facebook blogger who claimed to be a mole in President Robert Mugabe's ruling party.

In charges read in court by a state prosecutor, Sunday Mail editor Edmund Kudzayi was accused of being the mysterious "Baba Jukwa" blogger purporting to be a disgruntled "Deep Throat" in the ZANU-PF party ahead of last year's elections.

Kudzayi, who was only appointed to his position in April, was arrested on Thursday, a week after Mugabe accused his information minister Jonathan Moyo of hiring journalists sympathetic to the opposition.

"Baba Jukwa", the blogger, has more than 400,000 followers. He dished a daily stream of social tittle-tattle, outrageous personal slurs and explosive allegations, that gripped the country in the run-up to the July 31 poll. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Baba-Jukwa/232224626922797?ref=br_tf

According to the charge sheet, Kudzayi was "attempting to commit an act of insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism" as well as "subverting the constitutional government".

All the charges carry a life sentence upon conviction.

Kudzayi was not asked to plead and will appear in court again on Monday. He also faces two lesser charges of insulting the president and publishing falsehoods.

Zimbabwe routinely arrests editors from the private media under tough security and media laws, but no journalist working for a government-controlled paper had been affected in the last decade.

Mugabe last week branded Information Minister Moyo a "devil incarnate", accusing him of using government-controlled newspapers to sow divisions within the ruling ZANU-PF party.

Zimbabwe's private media outlets say an intense battle within ZANU-PF on who will succeed the 90-year-old Mugabe has sucked in the state-owned press.

Deputy President Joice Mujuru and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangangwa have emerged as the front runners, but Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, says the contest is open to all party leaders. (Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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