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Zimbabwe deports former U.S. congressman Reynolds over expired visa

Former U.S. congressman Mel Reynolds (C) arrives at the Harare Magistrates court, February 20, 2014. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo
Former U.S. congressman Mel Reynolds (C) arrives at the Harare Magistrates court, February 20, 2014. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

HARARE (Reuters) - Former U.S. congressman Mel Reynolds was deported from Zimbabwe on Sunday after he pleaded guilty to staying in the southern African country on an expired visa, a senior immigration official said on Monday.

Reynolds, 62, was arrested at a Harare hotel last week and was fined $100 by a magistrate court. But the court dismissed additional pornography charges against him on a technicality after the prosecution failed to clear the charges through the Prosecutor-General's office as required by law.

"We followed deported him as ordered by the court, but I am sorry that we are not in a position to discuss details of what flight or route we put him on," immigration officer Francis Mabika told Reuters. "Those are security issues."

Although Reynolds pleaded guilty to the visa charge, he had denied charges he was found with nude pictures and videos of women and men having sexual intercourse on his mobile phone.

Possession of pornography is illegal in Zimbabwe.

The state-owned Herald newspaper reported last Tuesday that Reynolds had run up $24,500 in unpaid hotel bills.

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.

In recent years he had recast himself as a champion of U.S. investment in Africa.

(Reporting by Cris Chinaka; Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa)

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