Nairobi, April 19, 2013—Two investigative journalists have reported receiving death threats in Kenya shortly after airing a story suggesting foul play in a government official’s death, according to news reports and local journalists.
Mohammed Ali and John-Allan Namu, investigative journalists from the private KTN television network received threats from anonymous callers and via social networking sites on Wednesday, according to Namu and Willis Angira, associate producer for KTN. “We received threats two days ago, and it was made clear that we were being watched, and there was a plan to eliminate Mohammed and myself,” Namu told CPJ.
David Ohito, news editor of The Standard, which is also affiliated with KTN, told CPJ that the threats were linked to an investigative story aired on KTN two weeks ago, called “Inside Story: Death in Ten Minutes” that suggested foul play in a helicopter crash that killed former Interior Minister George Saitoti.
On June 10, 2012, a police helicopter crashed in the southern town of Ngong, which was carrying Saitoti and his deputy, Orwa Ojode, along with two pilots and two bodyguards. According to the KTN story, the commission set up to investigate the crash failed to pursue leads that emerged during the investigation, among them that Saitoti and Ojode may have been poisoned to death.
The Standard said its journalists believe the threats originated from Kenya’s internal security department. Ohito told CPJ that The Standard had contacted authorities to express their concern about the threats and saying that they planned to provide the journalists with extra security if more threats occurred.
CPJ’s calls to and messages left with police were not immediately answered.
Police were also implicated in the January 2009 murder of Weekly Citizen journalist Francis Nyaruri, shortly after he investigated corruption within the police department.
“We hold Kenyan authorities responsible for the safety and well-being of Mohammed Ali and John-Allan Namu,” said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. “These threats are clearly motivated by the journalists’ report, which raised the possibility of official involvement in the crash.”
- For more data and analysis on Kenya, visit CPJ’s Attacks on the Press.