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Standard Group journalist arrested for ‘defaming’ MP on Facebook

Standard Group journalist Wahome Thuku has been arrested after claims that he defamed Mukurwe-ini MP Kabando wa Kabando on Facebook.

The journalist, who reports on court matters for The Standard newspaper, was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon and put at Parliament Police station.

News of Mr Thuku’s arrest spread on social media like fire prompting a campaign to secure his release.

Lately, a number of Kenyans on social media have been arrested – and some charged and convicted- as a result of posts authorities considered unlawful.

These are Allan Wadi, Abraham Mutai, Geoffrey Andare, Nancy Mbidala and Adika Adeya.

Below, read his full state statement on how the events unfolded:

YESTERDAY at around 8am, three CID officers went to see my wife at her work place. They informed her that they were looking for me in connection to a banking fraud involving two other friends and wanted her to help them contact me.

She called me in their presence and I directed them, through her, on how and where to find me. We met as arranged and the first thing they asked was for me to surrender my mobile phone handset. The very friendly officers informed me that they were investigating a fraud case but were not willing to disclose the details.

They counter-checked the serial number of my phone with what they already had in their records and concluded that it matched. They asked me to accompany them to County Hall Police station, near Parliament.

I requested to use the phone to call my lawyer and also informed a few colleagues before leaving for the police station. We walked to the station where we found the officer incharged Mr Otieno. He disclosed to me that the fraud allegations were only a smoke-screen to enable them trace me and the actual reason they wanted me was in connection to a complaint filed there by Mukurwe-ini MP Hon. Kabando wa Kabando. My lawyer had already hinted this to me so I was not clueless.

I must have arrived at the station around 1pm and was there in Mr Otieno’s office till around 5pm. I was joined by several friends, Bonnie Mwangi, Kiruga Thuku, Isabel Githinji, Babake Kariuki Jrn and relatives while many others telephoned me through my friends’ mobile phones.

We had a very comfortable moment at the station which, I must say, is highly professionally managed, may be because of the caliber of clients it serves. I was properly briefed before being officially booked in the OB around 5.30pm. I was then placed in the small clean, self-contained cell for about 12 minutes before being released and required to report back on July 30.

I appreciate all the moral support that many of you extended to me and I can’t take it for granted. I also acknowledge the length to which the CID went to locate me. How they managed to trace her and couldn’t trace me is a question I asked them several times.

If all police officers attended to all cases in the same enthusiasm and industry, all the unresolved murder cases in Kenya would be concluded. I can only assume the attention in this one was driven by the status of the complainant and not the accused.

However, we all assured them that if only they had announced they were looking for me, I would have saved them all the trouble, the agony caused to my family and the taxpayers’ money by personally presenting myself to them. Perhaps the long route taken by the officers is one of the reasons why investigations in Kenya take ages. They comb acres of forests, looking for a rat that is right there in their granary.

Contrary to what was reported in sections of the media (and I don’t in any way blame them) I was not been arrested for hate speech. In fact, hate speech as defined in the law is not something you will ever see on this wall. What you are likely to find here is hate speech as defined by yourself. Likewise, I was not arrested for defamation.

I was arrested on a charge of IMPROPER USE OF TELECOMMUNICATION SYSTEM (namely my mobile phone), under Section 29 of the Kenya Information and Communications Act. The distinction between the three offenses is very clear and it’s very important to understand that.

In other words I’m accused of using the system to send a message “KNOWING IT TO BE FALSE, FOR THE PURPOSES OF CAUSING ANNOYANCE TO THE HON MEMBER”. The maximum sentence for that is a fine of 50k or three months in jail or both.

I don’t wish to discuss that charge for now because my lawyers are ready and will be dealing with it exhaustively and conclusively in the fullness of time.

For the time being and may be for the next two weeks, I will be out of reach on my usual telephone line as the handset is the subject of investigations. I will however get a new line today and post it here as a public line for anyone wishing to get in touch with me, and I mean everyone.

Finally I ask you to treat this as a personal challenge, much like the other “personal challenges” we know about. Let’s keep doing what we do here, speaking and writing THE TRUTH on all social issues and trying to make our society worth living in. Once again, I thank you all who supported me and even those made merry. God bless.