Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Trade and Industry Moses Kuria addresses delegates in Nairobi on June 14, 2023. In response to Kuria’s derogatory remarks and threats of economic sanctions against Nation Media Group, CPJ issued a statement asking he retract his comments. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)

Kenyan government minister Moses Kuria insults, threatens Nation Media Group

Nairobi, June 21, 2023—In response to Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Trade and Industry Moses Kuria’s derogatory remarks and threats of economic sanctions against the privately owned Nation Media Group, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:

“The vile insults and threats that Kenya’s trade minister Moses Kuria hurled at the Nation Media Group over the last few days undermine the dignity of the minister’s taxpayer-funded office and expose a disturbing disregard for constitutionally protected freedoms of the press,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal, from New York. “Kuria should retract his threats, and the government should guarantee media outlets do not face retaliatory economic sanctions for their reporting.”

In a video posted on Twitter on June 18, Kuria threatened to fire government officials who advertised with the Nation Media Group, a corporation that owns a number of local and regional newspapers and broadcasters. The following day, he posted pictures of advertisements in the company’s newspapers and said the ads were “not good.”

In a series of tweets between June 18 and June 20, Kuria called the company’s employees “prostitutes,” accused its journalists of corruption and bias, and promised to publish the names of “Nation Media Group writers who have confessed to being coerced to write anti government stories” in a “scheme” by editors, management, and “a former president.”

The actions came after Nation Media Group’s print publications and its broadcaster NTV carried reports alleging government officials’ involvement in a corrupt scheme to import duty-free cooking oil that cost taxpayers billions of shillings. 

On Wednesday, June 21, Kuria told journalists he would not apologize for his comments and said, “There is no one who is more pro-media than me.” 

Also on Wednesday, the High Court in Nairobi issued an injunction against Kuria, barring him from insulting or vilifying the media, pending the hearing of a petition alleging the minister had breached values of governance and leadership as outlined by the Kenyan constitution. The case is expected to be heard on July 24.