Zambian editors arrested trying to enter newspaper’s offices amid tax dispute

NEW YORK, 28 June 2016 – PRN Africa — The editor-in-chief of independent Zambian newspaper The Post was arrested trying to enter his newspaper’s offices today, after authorities closed it in a dispute over allegedly unpaid taxes. Fred M’membe, his wife Mutinta, and his deputy managing editor Joseph Mwenda, were released on bail, but face charges of breaking into a building, according to reports.

The charges come after the Revenue Appeals Tribunal overturned an order for The Post’s property to be seized by the Zambia Revenue Authority, according to reports. M’membe and his co-accused were arrested at around 1 a.m. today when they tried to enter the headquarters of The Post after the tribunal’s ruling, according to news reports. Police said the order allowing the paper to resume publishing had not been signed by the revenue authority.

All three are due to appear in court next week, according to Reuters.  “By disregarding the orders of the Revenue Appeals Tribunal, Zambian authorities make clear that shutting down The Post was not about procedure, but rather a politically motivated attempt to silence criticism,” said CPJ Senior Africa Research Associate Kerry Paterson. “Authorities must drop the charges against Fred M’membe, Mutinta Mazoka-M’membe and Joseph Mwenda immediately, and respect the order that all control of Post property be returned to the paper from the Zambia Revenue Authority.”

SOURCE Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

Editor’s Note: Newstime Africa calls on the Zambian Authorities to release the journalists immediately. Journalists should be allowed to do their work without fear of harassment from public officials and the Zambian government should heed the CPJ’s call for charges against the three journalists to be dropped.  

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