Tanzania: Health Status Unclear for Journalist Arrested for Sedition

Erick Kabendera in court where he was charged with leading organized crime, failure to pay tax and money laundering (file photo).

A Tanzanian journalist arrested in July after criticizing the president in print appeared in court Thursday, looking weak and having trouble walking.

Prospects for Erick Kabendera's release were dashed Thursday when the government prosecutor said the investigation against him is still in progress.

Kabendera had trouble walking when he entered the court chamber. His lawyer, Jebra Kambole, says the plan for his medical treatment is unclear, though the magistrate issued instructions that included meeting with a prison doctor for a checkup.

Kambole said a Sept. 18 hearing is set to look at Kabendera's health status, and the court may issue more instructions at that time.

Kabendera, 39, was arrested at the end of July at his home amid questions about his citizenship. Later the charges were changed and he was accused of sedition, money laundering, and organized crime.

Kabendera's work has been published in national and international newspapers. He regularly covers Africa's politics, trade and extractive industries for leading publications, including The Guardian and The Times, both based in Britain.

After Kabendera was arrested, Kambole said his client was facing sedition charges in connection with an article in The Economist, in which Kabendera said President John Magufuli is "bulldozing" Tanzania's freedom.

Earlier this month, the Committee to Protect Journalists included Kabendera on its 10 most urgent cases that require global attention.

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