Chansa Kabwela, news editor of the private Post newspaper, faced a five-year jail sentence for the pictures in a case that had raised concerns of a backlash against Zambian media.
Magistrate Charles Kafunda said prosecutors had failed to prove its case against the journalist.
“The prosecution failed to establish an element of a prima facie case and I therefore dismiss the case and subsequently acquit the accused. The state has however the right to appeal,” Kafunda told a packed courtroom.
Kabwela, dressed in a black suit and accompanied by her husband Henry, smiled as Kafunda read out the verdict.
She later told reporters outside the court that her acquittal was a victory for everyone affected by the doctors’ strike, which lasted two weeks in June.
“This victory to me is a victory for those that suffered during the strike. I was confident that I would be acquitted,” Kabwela said.
“I’m very happy,” said Kabwela in a phone interview from Lusaka. “I’m glad the courts have vindicated me. What I did on behalf of the Post was in goodwill, and we wanted to show a desperate situation to the authorities. I’m very happy, and I’m also happy for the woman in the pictures, and for the women whose pictures were not taken, who suffered equally during the strike.”
Kabwela in July this year sent graphic images of a woman givingbirth without medical help to various prominent people in Zambia, including the vice president.
Kabwela did not publish the photos but she was charged with circulating pornography with intent to corrupt public morals.
Kabwela argued that she sent the pictures because she wanted to highlight the effect the strike had on the health care system. The baby shown in the photos died.
Her actions angered President Rupiah Banda, who ordered that she be arrested for distributing obscene images.