Today's Story Line

The British government is setting up a spy center to monitor all Internet traffic. Privacy groups are concerned that it will set a dangerous precedent among Western nations.

Vladimir Putin officially takes Russia's reins on Sunday. But what's his plan?

Zimbabwe opened the campaigning for parliamentary elections amid an atmosphere of violent threats.

David Clark Scott World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB

* HARASSED NEAR HARARE: Reporter Ross Herbert came face to face this week with the ugly epicenter of Zimbabwe's crisis at a farm some 30 miles east of Harare. "I was greeted at the Atlanta Farm by a cluster of men who seemed stunned to see a white man step from a Harare taxi." Ross was told there was a ban on talking to the media and he should leave. He got back in the cab to leave, when his guides, Peter Sikelo and Pondayi Marengu, were called to a nearby tent and told to sit. "I was called out and abruptly the lazy mood began to shift," says Ross.

The group started chanting slogans, and Ross's guides were made to lead the shouting. "Forward with ZANU-PF. Down with MDC." Men emerged from tents gripping brand new police-issued batons. A crowd formed, voices rose, and brand new unscratched police handcuffs were put on Pondayi.

"They demanded to see my press credentials and the identity papers of my guides. 'Why had I come? How did I know they were there?' A fat woman slapped Pondayi for answering a question directed at Peter. A man with a baton leaned over to my ear and demanded to know why I chose this area. Now Peter's hands were pulled behind his back and he too handcuffed.

"I re-explained my mission and how I had hired these men. If they did not want to talk, fine, we would go. I was ignored, and questions were fired fast in Shona. I could leave, but the driver and two guides must stay. 'If they want the land, they will stay with us. If they are MDC we will deal with them,' " the leader shouted.

Ross insisted he wold not leave without his guides. "I stood and demanded as firmly as I could that the others should come with me. 'Get out. We are soldiers, and your life and theirs will be in jeopardy if you stay. So get out now,' a man with a baton sneered."

Ross went to the police, called the leader of the war veteran's associations, journalists, and government officials. None seemed able to Two days later, he was reunited with his guides. Both men had been beaten with iron rods and police batons, but had escaped when their guards fell asleep.

Let us hear from you.

Mail to: One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 via e-mail: world@csmonitor.com

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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