A journalist has been arrested in Tanzania accused of publishing fake news about alleged police abuse of suspects in custody.
Joseph Gandye works for Watetezi TV, a station established last year by the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC). THRDC issued a statement condemning Gandye’s arrest, saying he was being held at a police station in the main city of Dar es Salaam.
Watetezi TV has just tweeted to say he is being taken to Iringa in central Tanzania on Friday morning: Iringa is where he did a report earlier in August for Watetezi TV about alleged police maltreatment of suspects in custody.
THRDC said the police in Iringa had responded to the report with a warning that “issue false and misleading reports that aim at degrading the Tanzanian police force and the government as a whole” would not be tolerated.
“I have ordered the chief intelligence officer to follow up on people who are misleading and reporting false information. Once they are caught legal action should be taken,” THRDC quotes Juma Bwire, the regional police commander of Iringa, as saying.A month ago, top investigate journalist Erick Kabendera was arrested. He remains in custody and his treatment has been raised as an issue of concern by the US and UK embassies in Tanzania.
Since President John Magafuli, nicknamed “The Bulldozer”, came to office in 2015, laws overseeing the media have been toughened and a number of newspapers and radio stations have been suspended for "incitement". He has often warned about fake news in the wake of articles critical of the government, saying there are limits to press freedom.