Police now question journalist Erick Kabendera's citizenship

Tuesday July 30 2019

Tanzanian journalist Erick Kabendera

Tanzanian journalist Erick Kabendera who was picked up from his home in Dar es salaam on July 30, 2019. Police now admit that he is in custody and they are investigating whether he is a Tanzanian citizen. PHOTO | FILE 

BEATRICE MATERU
By BEATRICE MATERU
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Tanzanian police have said they arrested investigative journalist Erick Kabendera over a citizenship probe.

Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander Lazaro Mambosasa told a press conference on Tuesday afternoon that there are doubts on whether Kabendera is a Tanzanian.

He added that the journalist was arrested at his home on Monday evening because he refused to go to the police station on his own, after he was summoned.

“Kabendera was provided with a formal police summons last week, but he did not comply. He was arrested -- not abducted -- on Monday due to suspicions surrounding his citizenship,” the police chief said.

On Monday, The Citizen reported that Mr Mambosasa said the arrest had not been reported to them.

Mr Kabendera, a freelance journalist who writes for various local and international publications, including The EastAfrican, was whisked away from his home in the capital Dar es Salaam by six men in plain clothes, who said they were police officers.

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A relative who preferred not to be named said the officers did not show them any identity cards, but instead confiscated mobile phones belonging to Kabendera and his wife. The incident attracted neighbours’ attention, but they were barred from taking photos or recording the arrest.

Commander Mambosasa on Tuesday said that Kabendera is being held at the Central Police Station in Dar es Salaam’s city centre.

“When the investigation is complete, further information will be provided to the public,” he said.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) had earlier urged Tanzanian police to disclose Kabendera's whereabouts, citing concern for his safety.

In 2017, freelance journalist Azory Gwanda disappeared and has not been heard from since. In early July 2019, Tanzania's Foreign Minister Paramagamba Kabudi appeared to say that the journalist may have died.

Mr Gwanda was last seen being whisked away by four men.

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