HARARE — Veteran journalist Jan Raath has been released after being arrested for co-authoring a story that linked Zimbabwe to a uranium deal with Iran.
The uranium story, published on Saturday, quoted outgoing Deputy Mines Minister Gift Chimanikire saying Zimbabwe had signed a deal to supply Iran with the raw materials needed to develop a nuclear weapon.
Zimbabwe police arrested Mr Raath on Wednesday.
Mr Raath told BDlive in an interview on Thursday that following his arrest, he had been interrogated for just under two hours.
"I was made to write an affidavit to the effect that my sole contribution in the story was to quote an official from the mines ministry and that it wasn’t true," Mr Raath said.
"This morning I also went to the police to sign the affidavit. The police were polite and I was told that the matter had ended for me."
The US at the weekend issued a stern warning to the Zimbabwean government against supplying uranium to Iran, a move it said would violate international law and lead to severe penalties.
News agency AFP quoted Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu as saying the claim that Zimbabwe was supplying Iran with uranium was "fiction".
"They never applied for mining licences whether to mine uranium or any other mineral. The country is not mining uranium. If Mr Chimanikire told the reporter about an agreement to export uranium to Iran maybe it was in a dream," Mr Mpofu said.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa’s (Misa’s) Zimbabwe chapter condemned the arrest of Mr Raath as an unwarranted obstruction of the media’s conduct of duty. "These incidents come a few days after the elections, whose outcome has raised doubts on whether the new government would fulfil its constitutional obligations, among which is securing media freedom and access to information," Misa-Zimbabwe chairman Njabulo Ncube said.
"It is therefore important that the authorities take firm and decisive action against such blatant violations of the new constitution for them to build public confidence and eliminate any misgivings on their democratic credentials."