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Monday, January 20, 2020

Detained Tanzania journalist charged with economic crimes

Top investigative Tanzanian journalist Erick Kabendera has been charged with “economic crimes” a week after his arrest.

According to the charge sheet, presented in court today, the charges are as follows:

  1. Leading a criminal gang between January 2015 to June 2019
  2. Failing to pay tax, totalling to about $75,000 between January 2015 to June 2019
  3. Money laundering a sum of $75,000 between January 2015 to June 2019.

The journalist was not asked to enter a plea and as the charges are considered too serious for him to be granted bail, he will be remain in custody until his case is heard.

Kabendera was arrested at his home in Dar es Salaam late last Monday by plain-clothed officers who were forced to identify themselves after the journalist made a distress call to neighbours.

The manner of his arrest and detention have raised concern about media freedom in Tanzania, both locally and internationally.

The charges against him have also changed over the last week.

At first, the police and immigration department said he was being investigated over his citizenship.

His lawyers then released a statement on Friday, saying their client would be charged with sedition in connection to an article published in The Economist about the nation’s president entitled: John Magufuli is bulldozing Tanzania’s freedom.

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