Police detain three journalistsSunday editor remains held incommunicado

New York, September 29, 2003—Police detained three journalists today from Kenya’s oldest daily newspaper, the East African Standard, which is based in the capital, Nairobi.

Managing Director Tom Mshindi, Associate Editor Kwamchetsi Makokha, and Sunday editor David Makali reported to the police at around 1:00 p.m. after receiving a summons.

According to Mshindi, the police released him and his colleague Makokha after about six hours and told them to report to police headquarters early tomorrow morning. They told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that they were extremely worried about Makali, who was still in police custody this evening.

The arrests came after the paper published excerpts of a leaked police report in the Sunday edition of the paper. The report contained the confessions of Constitutional Review Commission expert Crispin Odhiambo Mbai’s suspected murderers. Mbai was killed on September 14. The article reported that some of the suspects had fingered a prominent politician in the Kenyan government’s ruling party as being the mastermind of the murder.

Mshindi told CPJ that he and his colleagues were separated for questioning, and that police wanted to know the source of the leaked report, which they refused to reveal. After being released at around 7:30 p.m., Mshindi and Makokha said they spent the evening trying unsuccessfully to discover Makali’s whereabouts.

“This is an unsettling development in a country whose newly elected leader ran on a platform of supporting press freedom,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “We call on the Kenyan police to release David Makali immediately, and for President Mwai Kibaki to ensure that all Kenyan journalists are free to report on matters of public interest without fear of reprisal.”