Ex-Illinois congressman and convicted sex offender Mel Reynolds arrested in Zimbabwe
HARARE (Reuters) – Former congressman Mel Reynolds has been arrested in Zimbabwe, an immigration official said on Tuesday, after state media reported the convicted sex offender had been found with pornography at a local hotel.
Police and immigration officials were investigating Reynolds for living in the southern African country without a valid visa, Francis Mabika, an assistant regional immigration officer, told Reuters.
Mabika said Reynolds has been in Zimbabwe since November, but declined to give further details.
Reuters was unable to reach Reynolds for comment. A spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy in Harare declined to comment.
The state-owned Herald newspaper said the former Illinois congressman had been arrested at a hotel in the capital Harare on Monday, where he had been found in possession of pornographic videos and pictures.
Possession of pornography is a crime in Zimbabwe.
He had also run up $24,500 in unpaid hotel bills, the newspaper said.
“I have been in this country 17 times where I have done a lot of work for the people including the fight against sanctions,” the newspaper quoted Reynolds as saying.
The Herald’s website showed a picture of a baseball-capped Reynolds being led away by two men, his hands clasped in front of him.
Reynolds, a former Rhodes scholar, was a fast-rising star in the U.S. Democratic party when he was forced to resign in 1995 after being convicted of sexual assault, obstruction of justice and solicitation of child pornography.
The former representative made a attempt at his former seat last year, running in a primary race under the slogan “Redemption”.
(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by David Dolan and Andrew Heavens)