Tanzania charges journalist with money laundering, tax evasion

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Authorities in Tanzania on Monday charged investigative journalist, Erick Kabendera, with money laundering, tax evasion and assisting organised crime.

Kabendera was arrested by plainclothed policemen at his home on July 29 with authorities initially claiming that he was being held in relation to his citizenship. However, now the journalist has been charged with a number of economic offences and moved to a maximum security prison.

Journalist faces criminal charges

Earlier this week, Amnesty International called for the immediate release of Erick Kabendera, rejecting authorities’ claims he was being detained to verify his citizenship.

“It is outrageous for the police to arrest the journalist and hold him incommunicado for more than 24 hours, then claim they are querying his citizenship. Erick Kabendera must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

Tanzania’s constitution says a person must be charged in court after being detained for 24 hours, unless the police get permission from a magistrate to hold them for longer.

Kabendera was held for a week before being charged in a magistrates court in the former capital of Dar es Salaam. After being arrested on the grounds of confirming his citizenship, the journalist was charged by police with sedition under Tanzania’s controversial cybercrime laws which are routinely used to target government critics.

This was five days after his arrest but the charges were ultimately dropped.

He has now been charged with money laundering and tax evasion, both coincidentally to the sum of $75,000 each. He’s also been charged with assisting organised crime and the charges mean Kabendera isn’t eligible for bail.

His lawyers had been preparing for a bail application but the journalist has been moved directly to the Segera maximum security prison.

Featured image: “President Jacob Zuma attends the inauguration of President of Tanzania, 5 Nov 2015” flickr photo by GovernmentZA https://flickr.com/photos/governmentza/22802011035 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.