Kenya Acts Over Ex-NTV Journalist Yassin Juma's Arrest in Ethiopia

  • File image of independent Kenyan journalist and former NTV reporter Yassin Juma
    File image of independent Kenyan journalist and former NTV reporter Yassin Juma
    File
  • Kenya finally weighed in on the arrest and detention of former NTV investigative journalist Yassin Juma in Ethiopia after an uproar from lobby groups and colleagues.

    Juma was apprehended by Ethiopia's military on Friday, July 3, while covering massive protests that erupted in Ethiopia's Oromia Region, following the death of musician Hachalu Hundessa.

    In a newsletter dated Friday, July 31, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that it sent a consular officer from the Kenyan Embassy in Addis Ababa to visit Juma who is being held at Sostegna Police Station in the country's capital.

    The newsletter added that Kenya has been following on the case since Juma's arrest in early July.

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    File image of independent Kenyan journalist Yassin Juma (left) with Oromo activist Jawar Mohamed (left)
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    "Yassin Juma expressed gratitude at the visitation and appeared to be in good health. He has a lawyer, Mr Tuli Bayissa, and has expressed confidence in him," the Ministry updated.

    Juma was taken back to court on Wednesday, July 28 with another appearance slated for August 5. Kenya stated that it is following up on the matter and will accord him any necessary assistance.

     Abdullatiff Amin, a lawyer representing four other suspects arrested alongside Juma stated that the Kenyan had not yet faced a specific charge. The charges facing him, however, were revealed to be incitement and involvement in violence, plotting to create ethnic violence and plotting to kill senior Ethiopian officials. 

    The lawyer added that Juma informed the court that he was legally pursuing an online course in Ethiopia, a reason for his stay in the neighbouring country. 

    The reporter was facing a language barrier before a lawyer was provided for him. The court also directed the State to provide him with an official translator. 

    He was further allowed to receive visitors following a court order issued by a judge. The police had earlier on turned away friends who tried to visit him. 

    On Monday, July 20, Kenyan political commentator and online journalist Samuel Okemwa was arrested at Namanga, Kenya's border with Tanzania. His passport was also confiscated after a dramatic confrontation with Tanzanian officials. 

    Reports indicated that Okemwa was en route to Arusha to interview gospel artiste Rose Muhando whose life has been the subject of numerous tabloid headlines.

    Samuel Okemwa (left) pictured during a past meeting with Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga
    Samuel Okemwa (left) pictured during a past meeting with Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga
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    Watch video of Okemwa's arrest: YouTube