7 October 2008


Ex-journalist facing charges for "spreading false information", detained for six days

Incident details

Andrew Mwangura


This is available in:

English Français
(RSF/IFEX) - Andrew Mwangura, an ex-journalist and East Africa coordinator of the Seafarers Assistance Programme (SAP), is facing charges for "spreading false information" after he contradicted the official version put out by the Kenyan government about the destination of Ukrainian cargo ship, the "Faina", seized by pirates off the Somali coast on 25 September 2008 as it was heading for the Kenyan port of Mombasa.

Mwangura was arrested by Kenyan police as he left the offices of "The Standard" newspaper in Mombasa on 1 October. He was taken to the police station, where he was detained for 6 days before a Mombasa court ordered his release on bail of 200,000 shillings (2,000 euros). Mwangura still faces trial on a charge of "spreading false information" The trial is due to be held in a month.

Mwangura received a prize in 2006 from the International Chamber of Commerce - Commercial Crime Services, for his work in defending sailors and particularly against murder and piracy in east Africa. He has helped obtain the release of several sailors taken hostage.

The "Faina" was carrying 30 Soviet-made assault tanks, rocket launchers and anti-aircraft batteries, along with about 14,000 munitions.

Since the ship was seized by pirates, there has been an on-going debate about the destination of the arms. The Ukrainian and Kenyan governments say the weapons were intended for Kenya. But Mwangura claims that they were in fact destined for south Sudan. He says he has seen documents proving his claim.

Mwangura also said that four Ukrainian cargo ships, also loaded with weapons, have already transited through the port of Mombasa in the last year.

Several different statements have been made to back up this claim, including that of Nathan Christensen, spokesman for the US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. Meanwhile, on 7 October, the BBC website posted details of contracts showing that the arms consignment was bound for south Sudan and indicating that the Kenyan government had acted as an intermediary.

The "Faina" is currently anchored off the port of Hobyo, about 500 kilometres north of the capital Mogadishu, surrounded by US warships.


Reporters Without Borders
47, rue Vivienne
75002 Paris
rsf (@) rsf.org
Fax:+33 1 45 23 11 51
More from Kenya
  • Freedom on the Net 2017: Kenya

    The High Court ruled Section 132 of the penal code unconstitutional in April 2017; the provision penalized “undermining the authority of public officers” and had been used to prosecute online and offline speech

  • Freedom of the Press 2017: Kenya

    A number of journalists and bloggers were arrested under a section of the 2013 Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Act (KICA) that criminalized the transmission of “offensive” or “menacing” messages over telecommunications devices. However, in April, the High Court found that section unconstitutional.

  • Track, capture, kill: Inside communications surveillance and counterterrorism in Kenya

    This investigation focuses on the techniques, tools and culture of Kenyan police and intelligence agencies’ communications surveillance practices.