Nairobi, December 9, 2016–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Kenyan authorities to release Jerome Starkey, the Africa correspondent for The Times of London, who was detained shortly after arriving in Nairobi last night.
Starkey, who has been based in Nairobi since 2012, told CPJ by telephone that he was detained while going through immigration at around 10 p.m. Police offered no explanation for the detention, except to say that a “security block” had been placed on his passport, he said. He subsequently wrote on Twitter that he had been photographed by an officer of Kenya’s Anti-Terrorism Police Unit, and, roughly an hour later, that his phones were being confiscated.
“Kenya’s detention of a journalist, particularly on such unclear grounds, is cause for serious alarm,” said CPJ East Africa Representative Murithi Mutiga. “Kenyan authorities should immediately and unconditionally release Jerome Starkey and make clear that the country stands by its commitments to press freedom.”
The reasons for Starkey’s detention were unclear. Kenya Airports Deputy Police Commandant David Bunei told CPJ he had no knowledge of Starkey’s detention, and asked for more time to establish the facts. He did not immediately return subsequent calls from CPJ asking for further information.
Much of Starkey’s recent reporting from Nairobi had focused on the death in Kenya of a British real-estate developer whose demise led to allegations of poisoning and patricide.
A CPJ special report published in 2015 found that a combination of legal and physical harassment has made it increasingly difficult for journalists to work in Kenya.