US ex-congressman faces Zimbabwe porn charges

HARARE (AFP) - Former US congressman Melvin Reynolds was remanded in custody Wednesday after appearing in a Zimbabwean court on charges of illegal possession of pornography and flouting immigration laws.

The 62-year-old former congressman from Illinois, wearing a crumpled dark suit and white shirt, was flanked by detectives as he arrived at Harare magistrate's court.

He was charged with breaching Zimbabwe's tough pornography laws and staying in the country on an expired visa.

The case was postponed until Thursday for a bail hearing.

"The accused had in his possession an iPhone 4S cell phone which contained videos and pictures of naked women and men having sexual intercourse," the charge sheet read.

It said his residence permit had also expired and that he should not be eligible for bail.

Mr Reynolds said he had not been allowed US consular assistance since being arrested at his hotel on Monday.

The magistrate allowed Reynolds to see a doctor after a request by his lawyer, Arthur Gurira.

Mr Gurira later told journalists outside court the two charges were not serious and that Mr Reynolds may be fined or deported if found guilty.

He did not say how Mr Reynolds would plead.

Mr Reynolds, once seen as a rising star in US politics, stepped down from Congress in 1995 in disgrace after being convicted of statutory rape.

He was later convicted of bank fraud and served a prison sentence before being pardoned by then president Bill Clinton.