A Malawian journalist was early this month interrogated by police over an article that was critical of President Lazarus Chakwera.
According to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), Watipaso Mzungu, the chief reporter of the privately-owned news website Nyasa Times, was on 6 April interrogated by police in the Malawi capital of Lilongwe.
In that article, Mzungu quoted a local activist who referred to President Chakwera as “a joker” and a “time-waster” in relation to a proposed reshuffling of his cabinet.
On April 5, a police officer called Mzungu and said he was wanted for questioning the following day.
The officer did not specify the nature of the questioning and told Mzungu not to bring a lawyer, the journalist told CPJ.
During questioning at the Lilongwe police headquarters, officers said that the article constituted a criminal insult of the president and an attempt to undermine the authority of the head of state.
The police officers asked the journalist about his article, his motivations for writing it, and whether he had manipulated the statements of an activist he quoted in order to attract public attention, the CPJ continued.
The officers also demanded that Mzungu give them the unedited draft of his April 2 story, as well as the activist’s original statement.
Malawi Police Service spokesperson, James Kadadzera, said Mzungu was neither detained nor summoned for questioning and that he had merely been “invited for an interview” over an ongoing investigation.
He said the journalist had cooperated with the police and was released unconditionally.