Hawks confirm probe into M&G

2011-11-25 13:58

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Johannesburg - The Hawks said on Friday they have opened an investigation into how a weekly newspaper obtained a copy of a sealed interview with President Jacob Zuma's spokesperson over a weapons deal.

Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela told AFP that an officer had been assigned to investigate the complaint by Mac Maharaj, a former minister in Nelson Mandela's government who is now the presidential spokesperson.

"Once done, the case will be handed over to the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) for a decision" on whether to bring the charges to court, Polela said.

Maharaj has accused the weekly Mail & Guardian and two of its journalists of illegally obtaining a transcript of his interview several years ago with investigators looking into bribery claims in the arms deal.

Confidential

His interview is protected as confidential by law.

Maharaj laid charges last weekend after blocking the full publication of an article that the Mail & Guardian said would have shown that he had lied during the questioning.

The matter comes amid fears for press freedom after the protection of state information bill was passed by the ANC through the National Assembly on Tuesday, which has been attacked as a threat to free speech.

Maharaj was also named by the latest edition of the Sunday Times as having received bribes from French weapons maker Thales. He has denied the claims.

An inquiry into the long-running arms deal saga has recently been reopened.

Read more on:    mail and guardian  |  hawks  |  mac maharaj  |  corruption  |  media  |  arms deal
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