Zimbabwe's High Court has cleared prominent journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, who was facing charges of incitement over tweets deemed critical of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
High Court Judge Siyabona Musithu on Monday quashed the incitement charges against Mr Chin’ono, who was arrested in July last year ahead of street protests against government corruption that were brutally crushed by the military.
Justice Musithu said the police were “on a fishing expedition” when they arrested Chin’ono and that the charges against him were unclear.
“It means my arrest and my case were trumped up as I have always argued,” Mr Chin’ono tweeted after his acquittal.
“I spent the past 15 months in jails and courts for something that I didn’t do. It was cruel and tragic. This is the second case thrown out by the High Court from my three arrests.”
Mr Chin’ono, a fierce government critic, has been arrested at least three times in the last three years for sharing information that is deemed critical of the government.
He spent at least 40 days in prison for the incitement charges before he was released on bail.
The journalist has also been acquitted on two separate charges of communicating falsehoods prejudicial to the State.
He is yet to be charged on a case where he is accused of obstructing justice after he exposed an alleged plot to set free a nephew of President Mnangagwa, who was arrested at the country’s main international airport for trying to smuggle gold to Dubai.
The President is accused of clamping down on critics using draconian laws that were enacted during the Robert Mugabe era.
He is also accused of going back on his promises to return Zimbabwe to democracy after years of authoritarianism under the late Mugabe.