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A Zimbabwean high court freed award-winning journalist Hopewell Chin’ono on bail Friday following his arrest earlier this month for allegedly obstructing justice by tweeting about a gold smuggling case.
Chin’ono had been incarcerated at a maximum-security prison for the past 17 days, accused of breaching his previous bail conditions by tweeting about the possible court outcome of a highly controversial gold-trafficking scandal.
Justice Tawanda Chitapi overturned a lower court’s ruling which had denied him bail, saying the magistrate had “erred” and “misdirected herself in denying the applicant bail on grounds that he had the propensity to re-offend”.
Under the new bail terms, Chin’ono has been barred from using his Twitter account to post anything that amounts to defeating the course of justice.
The 49-year-old was previously arrested in July on charges of inciting public violence ahead of planned anti-government protests, but was freed on bail in September.
His latest detention was linked to the arrest of miners federation boss Henrietta Rushwaya.
She was arrested at Harare Airport on October 26 as she was about to board a flight to Dubai with six kilogrammes (13 pounds) of gold in her hand luggage.
Chin’ono tweeted that he had learnt from prosecutors that the politically connected Rushwaya would be granted bail, an act which the state said had jeopardised “the integrity of the case”.
Praised for his investigative journalism, Chin’ono helped expose a multimillion-dollar scandal involving the procurement of coronavirus supplies in May.