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Journalist released

(MISA/IFEX) - Sydney Saize, a journalist with the banned "Daily News" who was arrested on 18 January 2006, was released after spending three nights in police custody on allegations of breaching the country's draconian media laws.

Saize was released early in the morning of 21 January, after the state indicated it would be proceeding by way of summons. He was released after his lawyer, Innocent Gonese, filed an urgent application to compel the state to bring him before the courts.

Saize was accused of practicing journalism without the accreditation required by the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), and of publishing falsehoods, punishable under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).

Charges against Saize arose from a story that the police say was broadcast on Voice of America's "Studio 7" programme. The police allege that Saize wrote a "false story" for VOA about an incident in which war veterans and youths from the National Training Camps apparently beat some teachers in Mutare in what could have been a politically motivated attack.

Section 83 of AIPPA criminalises the practice of journalism without accreditation by the Media and Information Commission (MIC). Saize is, however, among a number of journalists from the "Daily News" who were denied accreditation by the government-controlled MIC in 2003.

The second charge arises from Saize's alleged violation of Section 15 of POSA, which deals with the publication of falsehoods. The offence carries a fine of Z$100,000 (approx. US$1,080), or a five-year jail term, or both.

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