26 November 2018

Kenya: Court Dismisses Defamation Case Against Newspaper

Nairobi — The High Court has dismissed a defamation case against Nation Media Group by lawyer Ahmed Sheikh Adan who had accused the newspaper of publishing disparaging words linking him to terrorism 17 years ago.

Justice Joseph Sergon dismissed the case saying Adan failed to tender evidence showing that the words he complained of, referred to him. He said it was his view that the words cannot be said to refer to the lawyer and he therefore cannot say that he was defamed.

Adan accused the newspaper of publishing the words on January 1, 2001, after the start of the trial of suspects who masterminded the August 1998 bombing of US Embassy in Nairobi.

The story, which was also broadcasted in radio and TV channels associated with Nation, talked of agents of the mastermind - Osama bin Laden, who had been operating in the country since 1993.

The story mentioned a "Kenyan of Somali origin who was a student of University of Nairobi and a director of an NGO" as having links with the terrorist group.

According to Adan, he was then a module II student pursuing law degree and that he was the only Somali student doing a parallel degree. He said the publication caused him to be labelled a terrorist and to support his claims, he called a former classmate- Michael Mubea.

Through lawyer Guto Mogere, NMG argued that Adan failed to table evidence showing that he was then at the Institution and that he was the only Somali student pursuing law.

Mogere said the words complained of did not refer to him by name and neither were his photographs published in the newspaper.

In the decision, Justice Sergon said it was incumbent upon Adan to table evidence proving that he was the only student fitting the description in the newspaper. The Judge added that the lawyer should also have brought evidence showing that he was the director of the NGO named in the article. "If indeed the plaintiff was a student at the University of Nairobi then why was it so difficult for him to produce documentary evidence proving that?" the Judge wondered.


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