NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A leading Kenyan newspaper said Tuesday its parliamentary editor was taken in for questioning and then released over a story on how the security ministry spent $3.8 million in a day.
Media rights organizations were quick to condemn the editor's arrest saying the actions fall into a pattern of attempts to constrain media freedom under the current regime in Kenya.
John Ngirachu was released after making a statement to the police, the Daily Nation newspaper said. Security Minister Joseph Nkaissery said earlier that the journalist would be released when he divulges the source for his story which quoted an auditor general's report that raised questions over how $3.8 million was spent in a day.
In an interview on Nation Television, Ngirachu said the information in his story was from a parliamentary meeting open to the public. He described his arrest as government intimidation.
"It's not stolen information... all information I have is in the record of parliament and it is accessible to the public," Ngirachu said.
Several articles in local media have recently exposed questionable government expenditures that have caused public anger and outcry over endemic corruption in the country.
Nkaissery has claimed the articles are part of a campaign to discredit the government.
International and local media have criticized President Uhuru Kenyatta's regime for attempting to restrict press freedom, either through legislation or attacks on journalists by security agents. Kenyatta has said twice that newspapers are only good for "wrapping meat."
The Kenyan Union of Journalists condemned Ngirachu's arrest saying the current government has tried to reintroduce criminal libel law in Kenya over the past two years it has been in power and has now opted to explore "unorthodox means to clampdown on the media."
This story has been corrected to show the minister's first name is Joseph, not John.