The Bulawayo Magistrates Court has today convicted New York Times freelance correspondent Jeffrey Moyo on charges of breaking the country’s immigration laws and slapped him with a two-year suspended sentence and a $600 fine.

Commenting on the conviction, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Africa Program coordinator Angela Quintal has said in a statement issued today that the conviction of the journalist is a monumental travesty of justice.

She says this further shows how far press freedom has deteriorated in Zimbabwe under President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The New York Times has reported that the court issued Moyo a fine of 200,000 Zimbabwe dollars (about US$600) and a two-year suspended prison term, which can be imposed if he is convicted of a similar crime in the next five years.

The journalist who was convicted today for “breaching the country’s immigration laws” however said he is planning to appeal the verdict.

And Ms Quintal said the fact that Moyo’s prison sentence was suspended does not make it any less of a mockery of justice. “Authorities must not contest Moyo’s appeal, and ensure that he and other journalists can work in Zimbabwe freely, especially with a general election scheduled for next year,” Ms Quintal said.

Authorities arrested Moyo in the capital, Harare, alongside Zimbabwe Media Commission registrar Thabang Manhika on May 26, 2021, and accused them of contravening the Immigration Act by allegedly producing fake media accreditation cards for two foreign New York Times journalists, Christina Goldbaum and Joao Silva, who were deported after three days in the country, according to CPJ.

However, Manhika was acquitted in a separate trial by the same magistrate on March 10.

So far in Zimbabwe, about four other journalists face prosecution on unrelated charges, CPJ has stated.

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