New York, May 19, 2009--Authorities in Malawi should immediately release three journalists arrested today in a police raid on an opposition radio station, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. The country is holding general elections between today and Thursday.
The 4 a.m. raid targeted Joy Radio, a station owned by former president and
opposition leader Bakili Muluzi, in the commercial city of
During the raid, police took into custody presenters Aubrey Nazombe and Mary Chande Mhone, and technician
Abdul Razak Telela, on accusations of broadcasting campaign material, according
to Joy Radio lawyer Ralph Kasambara. The three are being held at
"We condemn the silencing of Joy Radio and effective ban on its election coverage imposed by police," said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes. "The three employees should be released immediately and the station allowed to resume news broadcasting."
Joy Radio has been the target of harassment for its political coverage in recent years, according to CPJ research. The station has been involved in a protracted court battle with the government-controlled Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority over its license. It has also been the target of intimidation and censorship.
President Bingu Wa Mutharika, widely credited with improving the poor, landlocked nation's food security and leading one of the world's fast-growing economies, is seeking a second five-year term, according to international news reports.