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Please see the newest updates at: DAY 2: Roy Bennett still in custody (and how you can help)



Earlier today, one of the most courageous men I've ever met, Roy Bennett, was abducted by police and was seen being taken to Marondera, one of Robert Mugabe's infamous torture camps.  Roy was returning to the country from exile in South Africa after being appointed Minister of Agriculture by the newly sworn in prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai.  Even before he began living in exile in 2007, Roy has been one of the loudest voices against Robert Mugabe.  He's most well known for standing up to one of Mugabe's men in parliament, wrestling him to the floor after it was announced that his family farm was being taken over by the Mugabe government.  Afterwards, he was tortured and fled to live in exile.

I know Roy personally from my work in the region, fighting for the rights of MDC supporters and against the horrible human rights abuses perpetrated by the Mugabe regime.  But this incident comes as a personal shock to me.  As the MDC has finally begun getting a foothold inside Zimbabwe with the implementation of the new power-sharing deal, Robert Mugabe will stop at nothing to continue to keep a firm grip on the innocent people of Zimbabwe.  Mugabe views Roy as a threat because he is a passionate man with unending commitment to a safe and prosperous Zimbabwe.  I do not blame him.

We must not let Roy's story go untold.  If we do not act now, I fear that Roy Bennett's story may end much too soon.

I will be Twittering updates all day with the hashtag "#releaseroy."  Please do anything you can to spread this story.

You can also follow the story at Sokwanele, a great site that gives a voice to all those in Zim that are working to overcome the oppression imposed on them by Robert Mugabe.

UPDATE: There are multiple reports of a large crowd gathering outside the Mutare torture prison, protesting for Bennett's release.  Earlier police fired shots into the air next to protesters outside a police station where Bennett was being held.  I've been working on getting a statement out of the State Department, and my friend David Shuster (@shuster1600) at MSNBC will comment on the story tonight on the air at 6pm.

UPDATE x 2: WOW, thank you for all the recommendations.  I'm convinced that they will NOT harm Roy if they know we are watching them.  Let's not let them think we aren't paying attention.

After a little bit of stonewalling by police, it looks like they've finally charged Roy with treason.  And I think Sokwanele has, again, said it best:

These charges are scandalous, vexatious and without bases in law, but are simply politically motivated, simply intended to justify the continued incarceration of Roy Bennett.

I'm sure many of you remember that Morgan Tsvanirai has gone through many treason trials.  Let's hope Roy can once again join PM Tsvangirai back in parliament soon.

Originally posted to Joe Trippi on Fri Feb 13, 2009 at 12:38 PM PST.

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