Malawi online journo in criminal libel probe bailed

A 27 year old journalist arrested in connection with publishing false information after basing a report on a fake Facebook account for President Joyce Banda, has been released on bail.

Justice Mponda, a journalist for Malawi Voice, an online publication, was formally  charged at Lilongwe Magistrate Court with one count of publishing false information after using a fake presidential Facebook page .

Mponda pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charge.

He was given bail on conditions, which includes reporting to Blantyre police station every Monday and two surities of non-cash bond.

The scribe was arrested at his home in Blantyre before being transferred to Lilongwe on Monday and was questioned at Lingazi police station.

Mponda: Released on bail

His lawyer, Chancy Gondwe, said the charge was not serious and that it attracts a fine if convicted.

Police said  the charges are connected to stories about president Joyce Banda resigning, where a fake Facebook account purportedly created in the name of the president had a post a few days ago announcing that she has failed to run the country and was resigning.

The matter has now been adjourned to November 16, 2012.

Banda became president of this impoverished southern African nation in April, after Bingu wa Mutharika’s death.

Media in Malawi operate under strict regulations and activists have long campaigned for reforms.

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