NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 24 – Blogger and journalist Yassin Juma, known for pursuing war-related stories and issues about Somalia was at the weekend arrested for questioning over his coverage of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) attack in El Adde camp.
Yassin, a former NTV reporter was picked up by police on Saturday night from his Donholm home in Nairobi and taken to Muthaiga Police station by detectives attached to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.
Officials said he was under investigations for misusing a licenced telecommunication gadget under section 29 of the Information and Communications Act, after posting photos from the January 15 attack that left soldiers killed and others wounded.
“He is under investigation for various issues, including what he has been writing about and photos from the Somalia attack,” a senior police officer briefed on the matter said.
Other bloggers questioned since last week include Cyprian Nyakundi and Patrick Msafari popularly known as “ModernCorps while Robert Alai was required to present himself at the CID headquarters on Monday.
“I was called and ordered to go to CID headquarters on Friday but I told them I will go on Monday and we agreed,” Alai told Capital FM News on telephone. “I am also aware Dikembe has been summoned but I don’t see anything wrong with what we were writing because the government information was not forthcoming so we had to write what we were getting from soldiers.”
Police have confirmed that they are also looking for Seth Okoth alias Dikembe Disembe over social media posts discouraged by Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery soon after the Somalia attack.
Article 19 East Africa has raised concern over the trend saying it is deeply alarmed by recent escalation of arrests and prosecutions of online communicators, including bloggers, in Kenya.
Its director Henry Maina said Section 29 of the Information and Communication Act regarding ‘improper use of a licensed telecommunication gadget’ is being increasingly used by state officials to target those communicating online.
Last week a man was arrested and charged for sharing pictures of dead KDF soldiers on a Whatsapp group.
The accused, identified in court documents as Eddy Reuben Illah, was charged before a Kiambu Principal Magistrate Justus Kituku where he denied the charge, and remanded until February 9.
“On the 16th of January 2016, at unknown place within the Republic of Kenya, using a registered mobile subscriber number 0720050477, distributed under Whatsapp Group account namely ‘A young peoples Union’ pictures of allegedly died KDF officers, who were said to have been attacked and killed at El Adde Somalia, knowing them to be grossly incitive and likely to cause fear and alarm to the general public,” the charge read against him states.
The arrest and prosecution followed a warning by the Interior Cabinet Secretary and police Chief Joseph Boinnet against sharing gory images on social media, that seek to glorify terrorism.
“We are investigating three individuals in connection with posting gory images on social media that glorifies terrorism, two have similar cases in court,” Boinnet had earlier said, without revealing identities of those sought.
The government has not released the official toll of soldiers killed in the Somalia attack on a military camp, although four bodies were flown in early last week.
Several other soldiers wounded in the attack are also back home, with an offensive underway on a search, rescue and recovery in Somalia.
President Uhuru Kenyatta who led the nation n paying tributes to the fallen heroes at the Forces Memorial Hospital in Nairobi last week vowed that Kenya will not relent on the war against Al Shabaab militants deep inside their hide-outs in Somalia and inside Kenya.
Accompanied by opposition leaders and other top government officials, the president said Kenya will remain united in the war against terrorism.
“For our political leaders, both at national and local level, let us appreciate that the war against terrorism is real and as such should be treated as non political. Our national security knows no politics, only the unity and resolve of a mighty people.”
CORD leader Raila Odinga said “In a moment like this we stand together as Kenyans. There is no government or opposition, we are Kenyans.”