Arrested for the third time in six months, Hopewell Chin’ono says he wants to challenge the state to withdraw the charges against him.
Zimbabwean journalist, government critic and anti-corruption activist Hopewell Chin’ono was jailed for the third time in six months on Friday. On Monday, he said he would not seek bail, instead promising to “fight” for free speech.
The 48-year-old journalist, numerous on social media, often takes to platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to criticize President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, accusing it of corruption and mismanagement. His comments were unusually blunt for a journalist from Zimbabwe, where criticism is often treated harshly.
Chin’ono was arrested on Friday for providing false information, according to his lawyer.
The police came to arrest me! Let everyone know it!
– Hopewell Chin’ono #TheGoatWantsItsCameraBack (@daddyhope) January 8, 2021
“I have a choice today, to immediately apply for bail and go home, or to fight against the constitutionality of the law used to charge me and therefore to remain in prison for a few more weeks,” he said in a handwritten text. statement delivered to reporters on Monday in court in the capital, Harare, local news outlet New Zimbabwe reported.
“I have chosen to fight against the use of this unconstitutional law used against me.”
Further, the award-winning journalist said that if he had taken a bond he “would have totally sold the journalistic profession and the nation if I had chosen my immediate freedom over the media’s right to freedom of expression and the nation’s right to speak and be protected after Speaking “.
‘Cannot be condemned’
Chin’ono was successively charged with inciting violence, obstructing justice and publishing false information.
Attorney Doug Coltart told Reuters news agency the latest charges stemmed from a Twitter message from Chin’ono last week in which he said a police officer beat and killed a child strapped to his back. his mother using a baton after video of the alleged incident. went viral. Police said on Thursday that investigations showed the baby was alive.
Chin’ono says the latest charge is an “unconstitutional” law.
Lawyers backed his request, noting that the penal code cited by prosecutors was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2014 for being “unfair.”
“Constitutionally, he cannot be sentenced for a law that does not exist,” defense lawyer Harrison Nkomo told AFP news agency.
State prosecutors have insisted that there is a legal basis for the charge because the video “undermines public confidence in the police.”
Chin’ono was first arrested in July last year for supporting banned protests against alleged state corruption on social media.
The award-winning investigative journalist landed behind bars again in November after tweeting about a gold smuggling case involving political elites.
The independent journalist was released on bail pending trial on both cases.
In one interview with Al Jazeera Last month, Chin’ono said he was not “intimidated” by his legal problems and pledged to continue to fight against wrongdoing.
“Fighting corruption is something we should all be doing, and it’s not my fight alone,” he said. “We don’t have to wait for a moment of inspiration to start fighting corruption. It is something that we should do every day.