Malawi’s authorities asked to guarantee investigative reporter’s safety so that he can return home

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on Malawi’s authorities to guarantee the safety of Gregory Gondwe, a journalist who fled the country a month ago after being warned he could be arrested over a story about possible military corruption. The investigative reporter would like to return but needs assurances that the authorities will protect him.

The experience of Gregory Gondwe, director of the Platform for Investigative Journalism website, shows that investigating corruption can have drastic consequences in Malawi.

In a story published on 29 January, Gondwe revealed that the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) had made a large payment to a Malawi-born UK businessman suspected of corrupt practices. A few hours after it was published, a source warned Gondwe that he could be arrested at any moment because the authorities wanted to know where the leak came from.

Gondwe went into hiding and then discreetly travelled to South Africa on 2 February. Two days later, he received an intimidating message from the MDF’s commander, Gen. Valentino Phiri, who was clearly aware of his movements because he said: "Enjoy South Africa." Gen. Phiri did not respond to RSF’s messages.

“No journalist should be harassed for exposing a case of possible corruption within the military. Gregory Gondwe did his job by publishing the findings of a thorough investigation serving the public interest, using a source that must be protected at all costs. We are concerned about the plight of this journalist, who opted to flee his country in the face of growing risks to his security, and we call on the authorities to guarantee his protection, so that he can return home and be free to resume his investigative reporting.”

Sadibou Marong
Director of RSF’s Sub-Saharan Africa bureau

While Gondwe continues to be unable to return home a month after fleeing, Gen. Phiri has been stepping up his attempts to identify Gondwe’s sources. The phones of several MDF officers have been seized and inspected.

Gondwe was already arrested in April 2022, when the police asked him to identify his sources for an investigative story about attorney general Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda. The attorney general did not respond to RSF’s calls.

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