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.