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Returning Zimbabwe opposition official arrested on treason charges

[JURIST] Zimbabwean police arrested opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) [party website] Secretary General Tendai Biti [profile] Thursday on suspicion of treason. Biti left Zimbabwe after the disputed March 29 elections [JURIST news archive] in which MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai [BBC profile] challenged current Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]; police arrested him as soon as he arrived back in the country Thursday. Police suspect that he wrote a document explaining a plan to fix the elections and that he published false and prejudicial information against the state by announcing an MDC election victory before the official results were released. The charges constitute treason [Section 20 text, PDF] under Zimbabwean criminal law. If convicted, Biti could face the death penalty [sentencing code section 337(b) text, PDF]. AFP has more.

Tsvangirai himself was also detained [BBC report] Thursday while campaigning. Last week he was stopped at a roadblock and then held for nine hours [Reuters report] for drawing and addressing a crowd of people.

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