By Nairobi Free-Press
Has the space for free expression closed in Kenya? There is a pattern of bloggers and whistle-blowers being arrested and charged in court just for irritating those in power. I have counted in the last ten days alone more than six cases of people (mostly bloggers) being picked up and locked in police cells for what are effectively non-crimes.
As we go to press, respected journalist and former NTV reporter Yassin Juma is held at Muthaiga Police Station for his alleged reporting on KDF killings in camp Al-Edde in Somali.
Robert Alai has been charged twice in the period, one charge being for questioning the academic qualifications of the EACC director. The other charge is for calling President Uhuru a coward, which was an opinion Alai expressed based on his interpretation of the president’s inept response to the killing of Kenyan soldiers in Somalia.
Also on the Somalia killings, another blogger, Eddy Reuben Illah, was charged in a Kiambu court with the alleged crime of distributing pictures allegedly showing dead KDF soldiers on the WhatsApp platform.
In Mombasa, three arrests were made. Cyprian Nyakundi, who is a thorn in the flesh of Jubilee, was arrested allegedly for a complaint that Mombasa governor Hassan Joho made about him to the police a year ago. Joho was quite surprised to see Nyakundi arrested, and he withdrew the complaint he had filed, fearing the blogger was being intimidated by state agents.
The second arrest in Mombasa was that of Abraham Mutai, who was accused of misusing a licensed communication platform to cause anxiety. His crime was to report on corruption in Isiolo County, through his Twitter handle.
Not long ago, Dikembe Disembe was prosecuted for a post he made in Facebook….
The third one was that of Anthony Njoroge Mburu, who wrote a Facebook post accusing Kiambu Governor William Kabogo of importing substandard eggs. Njoroge was detained for three days without any charges.
In Nakuru, Elijah Kinyanjui, who runs the Facebook page Nakuru County News Online, was arrested for sharing the pictures of an alleged daughter of Nakuru governor Kinuthia Mbugua. It is only this case that received substantial mainstream media coverage, in part because of the protest by local human rights groups and the solidarity that Elijah got from all Nakuru-based journalists.
The media, human rights campaigners and the opposition should join hands to resist this new use of the police in the resolution of defamation suits.
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