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Journalist Yassin Juma goes into exile in Somalia

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Former NTV reporter Yassin Juma has reportedly gone into exile after he was put under surveillance in the crackdown on journalists perceived to be critical of government security operations.

Juma, who quit mainstream media and has turned into an avid blogger and social media informant, is said to be hiding with his family in a foreign country – possibly Somalia – for fear of more scrutiny and reprisals by government security agencies after revealing sensitive information about the war between Al Shabaab and the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in Somalia, according to a report in the upcoming edition of Index on Censorship magazine.

“This is the first call I am making,” Yassin told the magazine, speaking for the first time publicly since he was charged and released. “We’ve gone underground.”

His Facebook timeline postings appear to suggest he could be in Somali capital Mogadishu. Today, he has advertised vacancies for teaching jobs in Mogadishu and on June 25th he posted a photo of Mogadishu Port taken at night.

Yassin Juma, an investigative journalist was arrested amid reports of an Al-shabaab attack in El-Adde. The government downplayed the attack, saying that only a few KDF soldiers had been attacked.

SEE ALSO >> Jicho Pevu being forced to quit journalism

Yassin, through his contacts in Somalia, reported on his Twitter and Facebook accounts that 103 soldiers had been killed. But the KDF denied his report, and Joseph Nkaissery, the cabinet secretary for the interior, made a public announcement warning that anyone who circulated information about the attack would be arrested for being “sympathetic to al-Shabaab”.

Juma was charged for the “misuse of a telecommunication gadget”, with police making clear they were particularly unhappy that he had shared a Facebook post by the brother of a dead Kenyan-Somali soldier “without the permission of the KDF”.

He was arrested on the 23 January after being trailed by ATPU (Anti-Terror Police Unit) officers for three days. Officers from the special police division reportedly took Juma into custody at his Donholm house at 6pm on Saturday evening. He was afterwards taken to the Muthaiga police station where he spent the night.

He was arraigned in court on the 24th January and was charged with misusing a communication gadget.

READ >> Kenya becomes hostile for journalists

The government has lately been at loggerheads with investigative journalists. Bloggers and journalists have been arrested and later released without being charged. Just like Yassin Juma, Mohammed Ali, an investigative journalist with KTN known for his Jicho Pevu exposes, has clashed with top Jubilee officials, especially Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, who saw him as a threat to national security.

“Ali has been portraying the security in the negative and the Al-Shabaab in the positive. He shows Al-Shabaab training and our people in the opposite,” the minister said. But Ali claimed that some government officials were running a campaign and using religion to portray him as a terrorist-sympathiser.

Nkaisssery says the government respects independent media and freedom of expression, but added that this “freedom must be enjoyed in a responsible manner”.

A Kenya-based NGO, Article 19, documented a sharp rise in the threats and attacks on journalists.

From January to September 2015, the NGO recorded 65 individual cases were journalists and social media users were threatened with either physical violence, threats by phone and text, summons by police or and legal restrictions. Of these incidents, 22 cases related to journalists covering corruption, 12 to protests, and eight to terrorism and crime stories.


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