A local Associated Press journalist, Farai Mugano, was yesterday briefly held inside the Libyan Embassy in downtown Harare following a dramatic encounter with ejected ambassador Taher Elmagrahi in which the reporter claimed the ambassador had ordered police to shoot him.
Police arrested and briefly detained the broadcast journalist, as he attempted to interview Elmagrahi outside the embassy where he was filming the envoy as he entered the building.
Elmagrahi was on Tuesday given 72 hours to leave the country after he defected to the rebel-backed National Transitional Council (NTC).
Mugano was detained for about three hours inside the Libyan Embassy.
“I was filming from outside the building at the Libyan Embassy when Ambassador Elmagrahi arrived at the embassy and stormed out of his car and tried to stop my filming,” Mugano said.
“He then ordered police guarding the embassy to shoot me. The police came close to me and demanded to know what was happening. Then some other plain-clothes men also came to where we were standing and wanted to tamper around with my camera.
“I was then taken inside where they just asked me what had transpired and I told them I had gone there to do a follow-up story on the ejected ambassador’s next move. The policemen then said I should wait for their boss who
then came and recorded a statement from me. I told them the ambassador was threatening me. Then they took my details.”
Although, police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka could not confirm the report, Elmagrahi confirmed the incident.
Said the expelled envoy: “How can one come to my residence at 6 in the morning to ask me questions? I did not do anything to the Zimbabwe government, why should I be followed?”
Elmagrahi was ordered to leave the country after he dumped Muammar Gaddafi’s fallen regime and shifted allegiance to rebels.
Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi told journalists early this week, the ambassador forfeited his diplomatic status following his defection to the NTC, which Harare has refused to recognise.
Last Wednesday, Elmagrahi joined jubilant Libyan nationals resident in Zimbabwe in replacing the Gaddafi regime flag with that of the NTC, which is backed by Nato.