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Tanzania journo detained over police abuse story

The Committee to Protect Journalists Friday said it is concerned for the welfare of investigative journalist Joseph Gandye, who was arrested on Thursday and handed over to the Tanzanian police on whom he had reported critically, alleging they had abused other detainees.Police summoned Gandye, a production editor and reporter with Watetezi TV, to appear at Urafiki police station in Dar es Salaam, where they questioned him in the presence of his lawyer about his reporting, according to a statement from  the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition, a non-governmental  coalition that owns Watetezi TV. 

Police said they arrested Gandye on suspicion of publishing false news in contravention of the Cyber Crimes Act, according to a Facebook post from the coalition.

Under Tanzania’s Cyber Crime Act, persons convicted of publishing “false, deceptive, misleading or inaccurate” information face a minimum of three years in prison and/or a fine of at least 5 million Tanzanian shillings (US$2,174).

Police  in Dar es Salaam arrested Gandye at the request of their colleagues in  the central region of Iringa and transferred him today to Iringa,  according to Watetezi TV and a report by the news website Mwanahalisi Online. 

In a tweet,  Watetezi TV said that police in Iringa asked the journalist to identify officers allegedly involved in the mistreatment of detainees.

CPJ  said it had called Tanzania Police Commissioner Simon Sirro but he did not  pick up his phone and did not immediately respond to text messages about Gandye’s arrest. 

The press body has documented a deterioration of press freedom in Tanzania in recent years. 

Freelance journalist Erick Kabendera has been detained since July 29 and authorities have yet to provide a credible accounting of the fate of Azony Gwanda, who has been missing since 2017, CPJ said.

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