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Kenya2 August 2002

Journalist threatened by a provincial commissioner

Kenyan journalist, David Ochami, who works for the Nation newspaper in Garissa has been threatened by the provincial commissioner of North Eastern Province Mohamud Saleh. In an article published on 21 June, the reporter quoted him as saying that previous administrators had turned a blind eye to insecurity in the region and had benefited from it. "If the remarks published in the newspaper were incorrect, you have every right to demand that the newspaper carries a denial", said Robert Ménard, General Secretary of Reporters Without Borders, in a letter to Mr Saleh. "We call on you to halt all persecution of this journalist, all harassment of his colleagues and to allow these media professionals to carry out their work in North Eastern Province in complete independence and safety".

According to information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, Mr Ochami was forced to take refuge in the capital Nairobi after the article appeared for fear of being arrested. The provincial commissioner tried unsuccessfully to get other journalists to contradict the version of his comments in The Nation. He also urged the Kenya News Agency to stop cooperating with Mr Ochami. Finally he ordered all his officers and the mayor of Garissa to prevent Mr Ochami from working in the region. The journalist and one of his colleagues, Adam Mohammed of The People newspaper were put on a black list.

Reporters Without Borders recalls that Mr Mohamud Saleh has harassed other journalists in the past, including Adan Mohammed of The People, Victore Obure of the East African Standard et Milton Omondi of the Kenya News Agency.

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