The tense situation in Zimbabwe is leading to the detainment and arrest of foreign journalists. Barry Bearak of the New York Times was arrested yesterday along with an unnamed British reporter. According to police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena, “I can confirm that we have arrested two reporters at York Lodge for practicing without accreditation.”
Here’s what happened:
“A witness described an intimidating display of force outside the York Lodge, the hotel where Mr. Bearak and others were detained. Around 5 p.m., two pickup trucks with 10 to 15 armed riot police officers stationed themselves outside the hotel.
Soon after, reinforcements came, blocking off the hotel and searching it room by room, confiscating laptop computers, notebooks and cellphones. The raid was overseen by high-ranking police officials, said another witness who refused to be named.”
Times exec editor Bill Keller confirms that Bearak was arrested along with other American nationals on Thursday. The Times states that “we are making every effort to assure that he is well treated, and to secure his prompt release.”
The situation in Zimbabwe has become increasingly dangerous for journalists, who are granted and withdrawn “accreditation” at the whims of Robert Mugabe‘s government. Bearak, who wrote a Page One story in yesterday’s NYT about Zimbabwe, initially requested his byline be withheld from the aticle for personal safety reasons. He later withdrew that request, according to an quote by Times rep Diane McNulty in Editor & Publisher:
“We withheld Barry Bearak’s name at his request as a security precaution [...] But as more Western journalists used their bylines and as the story grew more prominent, Barry felt it was time to use his byline, which appeared in the latest editions of the newspaper.”
The European Union is actively intervening to secure Bearak’s release. Bearak is 58 years old.
(Image via Huffington Post)