Police should respect journalist Raath's rights: ZUJ

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists has urged Zimbabwe arresting authorities to respect the rights of journalist Jan Raath who was yesterday made to sign a police cautioned statement, for allegedly authoring a story which claimed that Zimbabwe had signed a secret deal to sell uranium to Iran.

Raath’s lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, has confirmed that police made the journalist sign a warned and cautioned statement before being released.

Police have been on a manhunt for Raath following publication of the story in The Times of London last month.

The story, which Zimbabwean authorities said was based on falsehoods, claimed Mugabe signed a deal to sell uranium to Tehran.

ZUJ Secretary General, Foster Dongozi, urged police to accord the accused journalist due rights and handle the case professionally.

“The Raath case could be used by the world to shape in its mind the image of how Zimbabwe will deal with rights of journalists and its citizens in the coming five years,” Dongozi told The Zimbabwean in a telephone interview.

He urged journalists to conduct themselves in an ethical and professional manner as they go about their daily duties.

The Media Institute for Southern Africa strongly condemned the harassment of journalists and media houses.

“Among others, the cases include the ‘hunt’ for two foreign correspondents over a story they wrote on the alleged uranium deal between Zimbabwe and Iran,” said MISA Chairperson, Njabulo Ncube, in a statement.

Ncube said the incidents come a hard on the heels of the July 31 elections, whose outcome has raised doubts on whether the new government would fulfil its constitutional obligations, among which is ensuring media freedom and access to information.

The uranium story which was co-authored by Raath and Jerome Starkey, caused a stir around the world, resulting in the United States of America warning Mugabe of serious consequences if he ever signed the deal against the UN Security Council Resolution 1737.

The resolution prohibits the sale or transfer of uranium to Iran, except for low-enrichment uranium when it is incorporated into assembled nuclear fuel elements for light-water reactors.

The US warned Zimbabwe against selling uranium that could be used in a nuclear weapons programme to Iran, saying such a deal would violate international laws and lead to severe penalties.

Zimbabwe is bound by its commitments to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and relevant legally binding UN Security Council resolutions.

Outgoing Deputy Minister of Mines, Gift Chimanikire, to whom the story was attributed, claimed the journalists misrepresented his facts.

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