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Kenya30 January 2008

Leading journalists threatened with same fate as murdered opposition MP

Reporters Without Borders urges the Kenyan authorities to use all necessary means to quickly identify and punish those responsible for the death threats sent to leading journalists in Nairobi yesterday, hours after an opposition Orange Democratic Movement parliamentarian was murdered.

“These threats must be taken seriously because the killers have already followed through on their threats once with an opposition legislator,” the press freedom organisation said. “Kenya’s journalists have behaved very responsibly since the start of the unrest and we will not stand for their being treated like this. We express our solidarity with those who have been threatened and their fellow journalists.”

At least five journalists received email threats yesterday, after the previous night’s murder of ODM parliamentarian Melitus Mugabe Were. Linus Kaikai, managing editor of TV station KTN, Kipkoech Tanui, managing editor of The Standard newspaper, Joseph Odindo, managing editor of the Nation Media Group, Robert Nagila, a journalist with NTV, and Paul Ilado, a journalist radio Kiss FM and political news editor of the Nairobi Star newspaper, all got the same message accusing them of helping to plunge Kenya into violence.

Claiming to come from the Mungiki, an underground Kikuyu sect feared for its especially barbaric murders, the message said : “Today we invaded Woodley Estate. You are going to see what happens to you.” Were was shot outside his home in the Nairobi neighbourhood of Woodley Estate. The journalists reported the threats to police headquarters in Nairobi.

Ilado previously got anonymous threatening phone calls on 25 January after writing an article for the Nairobi Star about 10 NGO leaders forced to live in hiding for fear of reprisals. After turning off his mobile phone, he continued for several days to get threatening messages saying he would be “beheaded” and giving details about his home and car.

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