Armed Zimbabwean riot police and suspected secret police arrested
freelance journalist Frank Chikowore on the streets and drove him to
his Harare residence where they seized his camera, laptop and recorder,
wrotes Torby Muturikwa.


Chikowore is accredited as a freelance journalist by the Media and Information Commission (MIC).
His wife Chipo said the security agents turned the house upside down during their search, for which they did not present a search warrant.
Lawyers representing Chikowore did not know his whereabouts until Wednesday evening when police indicated he would be taken to court before the end of the week.
The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) condemned Chikowore's arrest which it said was meant to cow journalists ahead of a possible run off between President Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
“The arrest is baseless and illegal and we believe it is intended to harass and intimidate journalists out to cover the presidential election re-run," said ZUJ President Matthew Takaona in a statement.
Takaona said ZUJ believed the run-off elections will most likely turn into an unfair, violent and flawed election if the media, particularly foreign and local independent journalists, are prevented from covering the poll.
Chikowore's arrest came as a court in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, sentenced and deported British journalist Jonathan Michael Clayton for "falsifying" information upon entry at the Joshua Mqabuko airport.
Clayton, who was in leg irons, was fined $Z 20 billion (R2000) or six months in prison. The court ordered that he deported to South Africa where he is based.
This came on the same day a Harare magistrate acquitted New York Times correspondent Barry Bearak and British freelance reporter Stephen Bevan on charges of practicing journalism without accreditation from the MIC.
Also acquitted were two South African TV technicians – Sipho Maseko and Abdulla Gaibee – who had been arrested on similar charges.
Meanwhile, a Bulawayo court has freed a 60-year old Bulawayo-based blogger on bail. He was arrested on April 7 on allegations of practicing journalism without accreditation.
Political temperatures are high in Zimbabwe at the moment following the non-disclosure of the Presidential results by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) three weeks after polling ended.
Zimbabweans voted in the harmonized elections on March 29 but ZEC says it needs more time to release the results although the MDC has already said its Tsvangirai won the election by a margin of 50.3%.
Mugabe’s party, Zanu PF, has been accused of fomenting violence against the MDC supporters in the rural areas and has targeted journalists in a bid to secure Mugabe’s victory in a run-off.