The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the arrest of John Ngirachu, the parliamentary editor of independent daily The Nation. Authorities arrested Ngirachu Tuesday evening and demanded that he reveal his sources for a report on alleged procurement irregularities by the interior ministry, journalists at The Nation and other Kenyan outlets told CPJ. The Nation said Ngirachu’s report was based on proceedings at the national assembly.
“The protection of sources is a fundamental principle of journalism and a critical condition for press freedom in a democracy,” said CPJ’s East Africa representative Tom Rhodes. “We are appalled that Kenyan authorities would contemplate arresting a journalist for doing his job, let alone threaten to hold him until he reveals his sources.”
Ngirachu is being held at the headquarters of the Department of Criminal Investigations in Nairobi and has not been charged, CPJ was told. Ngirachu was arrested while CPJ’s Africa program coordinator Sue Valentine is visiting Kenya to consult editors on the state of press freedom and meet with information ministry representatives. In July, CPJ released a special report on Kenya’s troubled press freedom record. The government at first dismissed the report’s findings, but in a subsequent joint press conference with CPJ, the Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication and Technology, Fred Matiang’I, said “nothing will tempt us to encroach on press freedom.”