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Zambia charges two journalists with sedition

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Zambians read a newspaper on the streets of Lusaka on August 20, 2008. Zambia charged two journalists with sedition late Wednesday in what their lawyer said appeared to be a witch hunt for writers of an online publication critical of the government. (AFP/File)

Zambia charged two journalists with sedition late Wednesday in what their lawyer said appeared to be a witch hunt for writers of an online publication critical of the government.

Police brought the charges against Thomas Zyambo and Clayson Hamasaka, who were both detained on Tuesday, after searching for documents linking them to investigative news site Zambian Watchdog, their lawyer Keith Mweemba told AFP.

"Thomas Zyambo has officially been arrested and charged for the offence of seditious intentions," said Mweemba.

Hamasaka was "charged with the same offence," he added.

Officers were looking for evidence that linked the journalists to investigative news website Zambian Watchdog, according to their attorney.

"They were checking on Clayson (Hamasaka's) and his colleague's computers to see if they send or receive stories to Watchdog," said Mweemba.

"They got any gadgets that they felt could help trace the two to the Watchdog," he said.

Zyambo was arrested after police found him with biographical notes on President Michael Sata.

He was charged with "being in possession of seditious material with intent to publish," according to the Watchdog.

The publication is one of the southern African nation's last independent news outlets critical of corruption in Sata's government.

The newssite withholds its journalists' names to protect their identities.

Authorities have previously threatened online media that cast the southern African nation in a negative light.

In June domestic access to the Watchdog was blocked four days, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Sedition, a broad charge that covers criticism of the government and incitement to rebellion, carries a maximum seven-year prison sentence.