Tanzania: Twists and Turns Continue in Case of Arrested Journalist

Tanzanian journalist Erick Kabendera.

Dar es Salaam — Police demanded vehicle and house documents belonging to arrested freelance journalist Erick Kabendera as the case continued to take twists and turns at the weekend.

On Friday, the journalist's lawyer, Shilinde Swedy, confirmed the latest development.

According to Mr Swedy, who works with Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC), his client accompanied police officers to his house in Mbweni on Friday where they carried out the second inspection.

Kabendera, whose arrest Monday night in front of his wife at their Dar es Salaam home sparked outrage, was initially detained for questioning over his citizenship.

Kabendera's whereabouts were not known for hours after his arrest by six men claiming to be police. The authorities later held a press conference to deny he'd been kidnapped. But those charges were dropped and replaced with offences under the Cybercrimes Act.

He now faces accusations of publishing "false and seditious" information, his legal team was quoted as saying. Mr Swedy told The Citizen's sister paper, Mwananchi, that the police has continued to hold the journalist. "Police officers demanded house documents, but they were informed that the documents were taken by a bank," said the advocate. Mr Swedy said he was not in a position to share more on his client's arrest.

Asked about the Immigration Department's decision to confiscate his client's passport, the lawyer said the travel documents would be returned upon the completion of police investigations.

The Immigration Passport and Citizenship Division Commissioner, Mr Gerald Kihinga, defended the security organs' decision to hold the documents, saying it was part of the investigations.

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