Malawi’s attorney general has apologised for holding a journalist and attempting to coerce him into disclosing his sources in a government corruption investigation.
After receiving much criticism from press freedom groups as well as the US and British embassies in Malawi, the government issued a rare public apology.
MISA-Malawi, Malawi’s Media Institute for Southern Africa, reports that Attorney General Thabo Chakaka-Nyirenda apologised during a meeting at his office in the capital Lilongwe on Wednesday.
MISA-Malawi, a media freedom watchdog group, is chaired by Teresa Ndanga.
Ndanga said; “During that meeting, the attorney general expressed his apologies.
“He sent his apologies to the journalist; he sent his apologies to MISA and he sent his apologies to the media industry in Malawi. And he agrees that the arrest was not right.”
After Attorney General Chakaka Nyirenda indicated he will take action against individuals who leaked a document that Gondwe used in his March 30 piece, police arrested journalist Gregory Gondwe, who works for the Platform for Investigative Journalism.
The paper purported to show Nyirenda approving payments to corruption suspect Zuneth Sattar by the government.
During the interrogation, Gondwe claimed that police tried but failed to persuade him to explain how and where he obtained the paper.
Following local and international pressure on Malawi to release the journalist, he was released after four hours. The attorney general apologised to reporters on Thursday and said he was only doing his job.
He said; “Even though I was not aware of what happened to Mr. Gondwe, I did indicate that I am a legal adviser to the government and any issues that are legal in nature come to me.
“So, in that vein whatever happened I had to own it. In that event therefore, because I am owning it, I had a duty to apologise.”
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