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The BBC's Bob Berry
"Mr Mugabe is fighting for his political life"
 real 56k

BBC correspondent Joseph Winter
"I do not think it is worth staying here"
 real 28k

Editor of the Mail and Guardian Howard Barrell
"You live in a constant state of paranoia"
 real 28k

Sunday, 18 February, 2001, 21:43 GMT
UK protest over BBC journalist
Joseph Winter
Joseph Winter has until 23 February to stop his expulsion
The UK Government has strongly criticised Zimbabwe for what it called its intimidation of a BBC journalist who has been ordered to leave the country.


Expelling journalists cannot prevent the world from seeing what is happening in Zimbabwe

UK Foreign Office
The journalist, Joseph Winter, was forced to take refuge, along with his family, at the British High Commission after a group of men tried to break into his house during Saturday night.

Meanwhile, a lawyer representing Mr Winter has obtained a ruling from a court in Harare delaying the expulsion for five days.

The ruling - which also applies to a journalist working for a South African newspaper, Mercedes Sayagues - prevents officials from harassing Mr Winter in any way.

However, he says government officials, including the Minister of Information and Chief Immigration Officer, have refused to accept the order and say they will not abide by it.

In condemning the expulsions, a senior British Foreign Office official called for press freedom to be respected.

"Expelling journalists cannot prevent the world from seeing what is happening in Zimbabwe or anywhere else," said Brian Wilson.

Unknown intruders

Describing Saturday night's intrusion, Joseph Winter said the unidentified men had climbed a garden wall and begun banging on doors and shouting for him to open up as a car waited outside with its engine running.


We were terrified, and we thought they were going to kill us

Joseph Winter
A Reuters reporter and other journalists who arrived at the scene saw about six men in civilian clothes run away from the flat and escape the scene in a Mazda car.

"We were terrified, and we thought they were going to kill us," said Mr Winter, whose wife and small daughter were in the flat at the time of the incident.

All three were driven away by officials from the British High Commission shortly afterwards, who gave them refuge.

'Fraudulent permit'

The Zimbabwean Information Minister Jonathan Moyo told state television on Saturday that Mr Winter had been ordered out because his work permit was invalid and obtained fraudulently.


The BBC believes he has a valid permit to work and stay in the country

BBC spokesman
But Mr Winter, who has worked in Zimbabwe for four years, said that was "absolute rubbish".

His work permit was renewed three weeks ago, and is valid until February 2002.

"The BBC believes he has a valid permit to work and stay in the country and therefore has made representations to the relevant ministries," said a BBC spokesman.

Crackdown

The other journalist being expelled - Mercedes Sayagues, of the South African Mail and Guardian - has been in Zimbabwe for nine years, but is currently in South Africa.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirari
Mr Tsvagirai faces charges of inciting violence
She was allowed to fly back into the country from Johannesburg only to pick up her nine-year-old daughter.

The expulsion orders come amid an apparent media crackdown in Zimbabwe, which began with the bombing of the printing presses of the privately-owned newspaper the Daily News in January.

Shortly before the bombing, a government minister made a veiled threat against the paper, which had frequently criticised the government.

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See also:

16 Feb 01 | Africa
Mugabe opponent rejects charges
10 Feb 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Zimbabwe's descent into violence
18 Oct 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe: Economic melt-down
28 Jan 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe newspaper bombed
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