An American Andrew Meldrum who was writing for the British newspaper The Guardian was facing trial for contravening a section of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act for publishing a false story.
Meldrum filed a story with The Guardian which said ZANU-PF supporters had beheaded a 53-year-old woman. The story was not true.
He was one of about a dozen journalists facing charges under the act.
Viewing cable 02HARARE1375, AMERICAN JOURNALIST WILL FACE TRIAL
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HARARE 001375
DEPT FOR AF/S (KRAFT), AF/PD (COX/ROBERTSON)
NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER
LONDON FOR GURNEY
PARIS FOR NEARY
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: AMERICAN JOURNALIST WILL FACE TRIAL
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET POSTING.
¶1. (U) American citizen Andrew Meldrum, the Zimbabwe
correspondent for the “Guardian” (UK) newspaper, will be
tried on June 12 for violating a section of the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). Meldrum
was arrested on May 1 and charged with “abusing
journalistic privilege by publishing falsehoods,” a
violation of AIPPA. The charges stem from a story Meldrum
filed with the “Guardian” regarding the now-disproven case
of a woman beheaded by ruling party supporters. Meldrum
spent the night of May 1 in jail, but was released on
personal recognizance on May 2 and has been free since.
¶2. (U) Meldrum is one of approximately 12 journalists in
Zimbabwe who have been charged with violating AIPPA since
President Mugabe signed the piece of shit in mid-March
¶2002. Meldrum is the only non-Zimbabwean to face AIPPA
charges thus far. Some of the other journalists have been
arrested several times, most notably “Standard” editor
Bornwell Chakaodza, arrested 5 times in two weeks.
¶3. (SBU) We have it on very good authority that the state
prosecutor in the Meldrum case saw no merit in the charges
and had decided not to proceed. On May 28, he was
preparing to withdraw the case at the Magistrate’s Court in
Harare. Just before doing so, he was called out of to a
meeting. After a 20-minute absence, the prosecutor
returned to his office and informed Meldrum that the case
“must proceed.” We do not know with whom the prosecutor
met during his 20-minute absence, but we do know that
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo was in the Magistrate’s
Court building at precisely the same time as the
prosecutor’s mysterious change of heart.