LILONGWE, MALAWITHREE journalists are facing five-year prison terms over charges media rights groups argue are aimed at reporting on the disputed polls the country held last May.

Investigative reporter Golden Matonga, of Nation Publications Limited, and Zodiak Broadcasting Station editor Steve Zimba, including photographer Francis Chamasowa, were arrested at the Kamuzu International Airport in the capital while covering the return of the European Union electoral observer mission last week.

The two stations are privately owned.

The trio was arrested despite having the press credentials to cover the event.

Their equipment was confiscated, their footage deleted, and they were locked in a police cell in the airport.

Police first charged the trio with “conduct likely to cause breach of the peace”, but the Criminal Investigation Department later changed the charge to disorderly conduct under the Aviation Act.

Angela Quintal, Africa coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said: “We urge Malawian authorities to drop the charges immediately and not waste the court’s time.” – CAJ NEWSQuintal said.

The EU is this week set to present its final on the disputed election in Malawi.

The opposition believes the poll was rigged in favour of subsequent winner, President Peter Mutharika.