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Kenyan police summon journalists over Westgate coverage

Kenyan police have summoned three journalists over an investigative report suggesting that terrorists who attacked an upscale shopping mall last month may have escaped after causing mayhem.



Nairobi: Kenyan police have summoned three journalists over an investigative report suggesting that terrorists who attacked an upscale shopping mall last month may have escaped after causing mayhem.

Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo Thursday directed Standard Group journalists John-Allan Namu, Mohammed Ali and company chief executive officer Sam Shollei to appear before the Criminal Investigations Department officers for questioning, Xinhua reported.

Kimaiyo said the Kenya Television Network`s coverage of the conduct of security officers during the rescue operation in its "Jicho Pevu" (meaning full-grown eye) investigative series was in violation of Article 33 of the constitution.

The special report also raised questions about the government and security forces` response during and after the four-day siege since September 21, with footage of Kenyan security agents seemingly looking through mall merchandise, while searching for the attackers who killed at least 67 people and injured 175 others.

The Kenya Television Network footage showed soldiers of the Kenya Defence Forces were looting shops in the mall, although the chief of the defence forces, Gen. Julius Karangi, said the soldiers were only carrying water bottles in the plastic shopping bags.

Kimaiyo said Article 33 limits journalists to a certain extent and warned, "If you are one of the people in the channel carrying out such offences, we cannot fail to come for you, we will deal with you firmly".

"There is a limit that you need not provocate a propaganda war, you need not incite Kenyans," Kimaiyo said.

However, the summons have drawn criticism from the journalists union, foreign diplomats and the association of lawyers who have termed the directive illegal.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has also condemned the police directive, saying the move will curtail press freedom.

"Limiting our press freedom will limit our national thinking. Vibrant and objective debate is necessary to spur growth," Odinga said via Twitter.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists called on the police to follow the due process of the law in execute their mandate and described Thursday`s summoning of the media figures as the kind of "forced patriotism" that was potentially a sign of a downward spiral of press freedom in Kenya.

From Zee News

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