Jailed Zimbabwean journalist has virus symptoms, says lawyer

  • Zimbabwe Journalist Hopwell Chin'ono is seen through the window of a prison truck upon his arrival at the magistrates courts for his bail ruling in Harare, Monday, Aug, 24, 2020. A magistrate has denied bail to Chin'ono saying that they are no new circumstances to warrant bail for the freelance journalist who has been in custody for over a month. Chin'ono is accused of mobilizing anti government protests and is among more than 100 100 government critics who have been arrested in recent months ,according to human rights groups.

    Zimbabwe Journalist Hopwell Chin'ono is seen through the window of a prison truck upon his arrival at the magistrates courts for his bail ruling in Harare, Monday, Aug, 24, 2020. A magistrate has denied bail to Chin'ono saying that they are no new circumstances to warrant bail for the freelance journalist who has been in custody for over a month. Chin'ono is accused of mobilizing anti government protests and is among more than 100 100 government critics who have been arrested in recent months ,according to human rights groups. Associated Press

  • Zimbabwe journalist Hopewell Chin'ono appears at the magistrates courts while handcuffed in Harare, Wednesday, July, 22, 2020. Chin'ono known for exposing alleged government corruption is now accused of plotting against the government. Hopwell Chin'ono appeared alongside Jacob Ngarivhume, an opposition politician who is accused of conspiring with to mobilize anti government protests planned for July 31.

    Zimbabwe journalist Hopewell Chin'ono appears at the magistrates courts while handcuffed in Harare, Wednesday, July, 22, 2020. Chin'ono known for exposing alleged government corruption is now accused of plotting against the government. Hopwell Chin'ono appeared alongside Jacob Ngarivhume, an opposition politician who is accused of conspiring with to mobilize anti government protests planned for July 31. Associated Press

  • Zimbabwe journalist Hopewell Chin'ono appears at the magistrates courts while handcuffed in Harare, Wednesday, July, 22, 2020. Chin'ono known for exposing alleged government corruption is now accused of plotting against the government. Hopwell Chin'ono appeared alongside Jacob Ngarivhume, an opposition politician who is accused of conspiring with to mobilize anti government protests planned for July 31.

    Zimbabwe journalist Hopewell Chin'ono appears at the magistrates courts while handcuffed in Harare, Wednesday, July, 22, 2020. Chin'ono known for exposing alleged government corruption is now accused of plotting against the government. Hopwell Chin'ono appeared alongside Jacob Ngarivhume, an opposition politician who is accused of conspiring with to mobilize anti government protests planned for July 31. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 9/1/2020 9:35 AM

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- A Zimbabwean journalist in jail for more than a month is 'úvisibly ill'Ě and exhibiting symptoms 'úconsistent with COVID-19,'Ě one of his lawyers said, but prison authorities claim the journalist 'úis well.'Ě

Journalist Hopewell Chin'ono looked ill, according to Doug Coltart, a lawyer who visited the reporter in jail Monday.

 

A private doctor who later assessed the scribe noted that Chin'ono was suffering from 'úa headache, fever and distorted taste. It's consistent with COVID-19,'Ě said Coltart.

'úTests were done and we are waiting for the results. Fears of COVID-19 are real because people have been testing positive for the virus in jail. It is overcrowded and the personal protective equipment is not enough,'Ě Coltart said Tuesday.

Chin'ono has been in detention for more than a month after he was arrested together with opposition politician, Jacob Ngarivhume, and accused of inciting violence for publishing on social media his support for an anti-government protest. That protest was foiled by the military and police on July 31.

The duo's lawyers have previously told the courts that they fear for their clients' safety as overcrowding, poor diet and lack of protective equipment put their health at risk.

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Chin'ono and Ngarivhume return to court for a bail ruling Wednesday, having already been denied bail three times. Journalist organizations, western embassies and human rights groups say Chin'ono is being punished for exposing government corruption on Twitter.

Chin'ono had exposed alleged corruption involving a $60 million purchase of protective equipment for health workers. Chin'ono's reports led President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government to fire the health minister, who has been formally charged with corruption.

A prisons' spokeswoman told the state-run Herald that reports of Chin'ono's illness had taken them by 'úsurprise.'Ě

'úAs far as we are concerned, he is well,'Ě the Herald on Tuesday quoted prisons spokeswoman Meya Khanyezi as saying.

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