18 June 2019

Kenya: Alai to Face Terror-Related Charge for Sharing Slain Cops' Photos

Photo: Dennis Onsongo/Daily Nation
Blogger Robert Alai and his co-accused Mr Patrick Safari in a Nairobi court on June 19, 2019.

Nairobi — Police are now planning to charge blogger Robert Alai with a terror-related charge following his arrest earlier today.

Police sources say Alai has been questioned by Anti-Terrorism Police Unit, with plans now underway to charge him with disclosure of information in relation to terror activities.

Alai too tweeted that he is set to face the charge and even published his photograph holding a police banner with details of the charge.

The charge stems from accusations of posting a photograph of dead soldiers after the Wajir attack that occurred on Saturday morning when officers were ambushed while pursuing attackers who raided a village in Konton area,band kidnapped three Police Reservists.

He was arrested on Tuesday morning, by officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), a day after Police Spokesman Charles Owino told journalists that action will be taken against him.

"As we mourn our fallen heroes, posting of their pictures online by one blogger is very unfortunate, inhuman, glorifies terror and is tantamount to supporting terrorism," Owino said.

"Yes, he is here. That was very irresponsible of him," a detective who cannot be named because of his rank told Capital FM News.

But even after the arrest, the defiant blogger tweeted that "The issue here is not about @RobertAlai posting those photos, for me it's about the risks we're putting our officers in terror prone zones. We spent millions on armored cars which turns out to be substandard given how they're always blown up. This is the real issue."

Owino protested that some of the officers' family members might have stumbled on the pictures, a thing, he said would be traumatic.

"The unfeeling act of posting pictures of our fallen heroes online by one blogger is very unfortunate and inhuman," Owino asserted in the statement.

On Monday, the National Commission on Integration Commission (NCIC) issued a statement condemning Alai's actions, and accused him of glorifying terrorism - crime it said it is punishable by law.

The commission said the actions had a potential of "causing despondency amongst the country's armed forces as well as negatively affect the families of the victims and the unity of the country."

And though Alai "has the freedom of expression" such publications, the commission said, "can be interpreted as propaganda for war which is not protected under the Constitution of Kenya."

In a rejoinder, the blogger who has more than a million followers on Twitter said, " I will continue to speak out for the poor police officers who are neglected, and their allowances taken by "wakubwa." We must give our men and women who die wearing uniform, respect, dignity and honor they deserve. We shouldn't treat our cops like dogs. I am angry!!"

His sentiments were supported by activist Boniface Mwangi, who questioned the manner the officers' bodies were ferried.

"It is immoral and criminal for the government to transport bodies of dead officers like trash. There was no bodybags, not even bedsheets to cover their bodies. The question is, where are the 30 armoured vehicles President Uhuru Kenyatta posed with in 2017?" read his tweet.

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