Kenyan journalist detained for corruption report

November 11, 2015, 4:52am

Daily Nation's headlines on the victories of Kenyan athletes at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing. The Editor of the newspaper has been arrested for reporting on corruption. Photo: AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA

By AFP on eNCA

NAIROBI - A Kenyan journalist who wrote a report on suspect interior ministry spending was detained for several hours Tuesday and asked to reveal his sources, his paper said.

The Daily Nation's parliamentary editor John Ngirachu was arrested at parliament in Nairobi for reporting on procurement by the Interior ministry, the paper said on its website.

It reported later that Ngirachu "has been released from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters after recording a statement in the presence of his two lawyers."

The reporter told colleagues that while in detention he was pressed to write a document revealing his sources but that he had refused.

Shortly after his arrest, Interior Minister Joseph Nkaissery told a press conference that "Ngirachu would be released when he reveals the source of the information he used to write his story."

The Nation, the largest-circulation daily in the region, said the report on the $37 million of spending in a single day on arms, vehicles and helicopter repairs was based on the proceedings of the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly.

The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) condemned the detention and the Kenya Parliamentary Journalists Association called the arrest an infringement on media freedom.

The US ambassador to the East African nation this week delivered some blistering words on corruption in Kenya.

"Corruption is a crisis in Kenya. As I have said frequently, it is undermining the country's future," Ambassador Robert Godec said.

"Corruption threatens Kenya’s economic growth, the provision of government services, and security," he said. "It threatens the country's health care system. It must end."

Last month, lawmakers approved a bill that could see journalists slapped with huge fines or jailed if found guilty of "defaming" parliament.

The clause, which outlaws any publication of words deemed "defamatory to parliament", provides for fines of up to $4,850, 4,245 euros or a two-year jail term.