Tanzania: Journalist Erick Kabendera freed, seven months after arrest

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Tanzanian journalist Erick Kabendera has been released, seven months after his arrest.

Kabendera’s detention has been criticised by rights groups who cite it as an example of increasing repression under the rule of President John Magufuli. Amnesty International welcomed his release but insists there has been “no justice” for the journalist they say was punished for doing his job.

Erick Kabendera released

Kabendera’s release comes after he entered into a plea-bargain agreement with the prosecution and paid more than £90,000 in fines. He was arrested in July 2019 and authorities initially said he was being held over a question related to his citizenship. However, the investigation was dropped and Kabendera was then charged with money laundering, tax evasion and leading organised crime.

On the tax evasion charge, he agreed to pay $75,000 (£58,000) within six months after already paying a fine of $43,000 on the money laundering charge.

Amnesty International welcomed Kabendera’s release but criticised Tanzania’s legal system. “While it is welcome news that Kabendera is out of prison close to seven months later, it is outrageous that he had to pay such a hefty fine to gain his freedom after having been unjustly jailed for exercising his right to freedom of expression,” Amnesty’s  East and Southern Africa Director, Deprose Muchena said in a statement.

“Tanzania must stop misusing laws to violate people’s rights to liberty, freedom of expression and information, peaceful assembly and association.”

Featured image: “Amnesty International and Candle on Yellow background” flickr photo by Norwich Amnesty https://flickr.com/photos/norwichamnesty/6391428891 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-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.