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Freelance Reporter for The New York Times Is Put on Trial in Zimbabwe

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Mr. Coltart mentioned he could be looking for to separate the prosecution of his shopper from that of Mr. Manhika.

The choice to proceed with the case towards Mr. Moyo, Mr. Coltart mentioned, was “not surprising given that there have been some very public attacks on the independence of the judiciary under the government.”

Perhaps essentially the most notable of those assaults have been directed at an award-winning investigative journalist and activist, Hopewell Chin’ono, who was prosecuted in 2020 on costs he had supported banned demonstrations on social media. A courtroom in Harare, the capital, dropped the case in December, which Mr. Chin’ono described as an admission it had been trumped up from the beginning.

Some Zimbabwean journalists have privately expressed fears that the prosecution of Mr. Moyo was unnerving partly due to his status as a extremely skilled freelancer who has no political agenda. If it could occur to him, they argue, it could occur to anybody.

Dean Baquet, the manager editor of The New York Times, mentioned in an announcement: “We are deeply troubled by the prosecution of Jeffrey Moyo, which appears designed to chill press freedom in Zimbabwe. Jeffrey is a widely respected journalist with many years of reporting experience in Zimbabwe.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an advocacy group primarily based in New York, has been outspoken in its criticism of Zimbabwe over Mr. Moyo’s prosecution, notably for the reason that authorities acknowledged the weaknesses in the case six months in the past. If prosecutors don’t drop the case, mentioned Angela Quintal, the group’s Africa program coordinator, that “would simply reinforce perceptions that prosecutors are acting in bad faith and are using Moyo as an example to censor and intimidate the press in Zimbabwe.”

Mr. Moyo, who has a spouse and younger son, has described the prosecution as an ordeal, requiring quite a few journeys between Bulawayo and Harare, his dwelling base, 270 miles away.

“I hope this case just ends,” he mentioned. “I long for my freedom. I want to work peacefully.”