Mugabe regime confiscates Meldrum's passport

Guardian Zimbabwe correspondent Andrew Meldrum had his passport and residence permit confiscated on Wednesday and is in danger of deportation.

He is also scared that he and others close to him may be harmed but is grimly determined to fight for his right to remain and report the country’s turmoil.

“This is not just about me; it’s all about all the journalists here who are trying to report freely and fairly on what is happening in Zimbabwe,” he said.

“This harassment is the action of a government that is afraid of a free press and does not want anyone to dare criticise or report on its actions.”

Meldrum is a US citizen but has lived in Zimbabwe for 23 years. He has been keeping a low profile after a night time raid on his home by three car loads of Central Intelligence and Immigration officials.

But he went by appointment on Tuesday to the immigration offices in Harare, with his lawyer and a US consular official, where he was told his permit allowed him to write only about tourism and economics.

On Wednesday his lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, delivered a letter confirming his status as a journalist, as he is described on the permit.

Last July, Meldrum won a High Court victory over President Robert Mugabe’s Government when it moved for his deportation. Two weeks ago he was acquitted by a magistrates’ court of charges brought under Zimbabwe’s draconian press laws.

The state had wanted to remove Meldrum surreptitiously under cover of darkness but now the world spotlight is on what is happening to him.

Even though two Guardian representatives, who had gone to Harare to help him, were ordered out of the country within 24 hours, the paper is still doing all it can to support Meldrum.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and the US ambassador were contacted by Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger. Reporters Without Borders has also urged the Zimbabwe Government to stop harassing Meldrum.

By Jean Morgan

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