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Zimbabwe bars British reporter from Cup
February 20, 2003 11:31 IST
A British journalist covering the World Cup has been barred from entering Zimbabwe to cover the cricket tournament, the Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday.
Simon Briggs said officials at Harare airport refused him entry, telling him he did not have the necessary accreditation to enter Zimbabwe.
"I had my World Cup accreditation and supposed protection of the International Cricket Council," he wrote in Wednesday's edition of the Telegraph. "In the end, it counted for nothing.
"I realised there was no way I would enter Zimbabwe when an airport official turned to me and said: 'If you do not get back on that plane you will be forced to get on it'."
There was no immediate comment from the Zimbabwean government.
Last year, Zimbabwe launched tough media laws which critics say are aimed at muzzling the press.
The media laws make it an offence to publish a "false story", compel journalists to apply for licences and bar foreigners from working permanently in the country as reporters.
Several journalists have been detained under the laws, which have been challenged in the courts.
Former colonial power Britain has led support for EU sanctions clamped on Zimbabwe last year, and has been a vocal opponent of Mugabe's policy of seizing white-owned farms for distribution to landless blacks.
The European Union accuses Zimbabwe of rigging presidential elections and abusing human rights.
The ICC said in a statement it was disappointed with the decision of Zimbabwe authorities to deny Briggs entry.
Briggs, who had been due to cover Wednesday's match between Zimbabwe and India, said he was the same flight from Johannesburg to Harare as ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed.
"After a short and thoroughly unpleasant stay, I left Harare on the same plane on which I had arrived," he wrote.
Brendan McClements, the ICC's general manager for corporate affairs, said it was too late to address Briggs' situation. But the ICC was seeking confirmation from Harare that all other journalists accredited for the World Cup would be able to enter Zimbabwe, he said.
"The ICC has a written undertaking from the Zimbabwe government that journalists accredited for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 will be granted access to Zimbabwe to report on the tournament," McClements said.
England refused to play their opening match in Harare because of security and moral concerns.
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