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British journalist detained without charge in Kenya

December 9, 2016

A British journalist working for The Times of London newspaper was detained by Kenyan security at Nairobi airport on Friday and was held without explanation or charge.

Jerome Starkey, 35, was locked in a cell overnight after arriving in Kenya from the UK late on Thursday.

“Just been arrested at the airport on orders of security services,” Starkey tweeted early on Friday morning, posting a photograph of an untidy room with metal bunk beds inside the airport terminal.

Officers told Starkey a “security block” had been placed on his passport but were unable to provide any further information.

An award-winning journalist, Starkey has lived in Kenya since 2012 when he was appointed Africa correspondent for The Times after years working in Afghanistan.

Starkey has reported extensively on terrorism, security, miscarriages of justice, conservation and drugs trafficking while based in East Africa.

He has been questioned by immigration, detectives and anti-terrorism police but after more than 20 hours in custody had still not been charged by Friday evening.

Starkey tweeted that police had prevented his lawyer from seeing him, and his phones were confiscated shortly thereafter.

“The Kenyan authorities’ continued failure to formally inform Jerome Starkey of why he has been detained and to allow him access to his lawyer amounts to arbitrary detention. He has the right to know why he is being held and upon what grounds,” read a statement from Amnesty International.

“We are monitoring the situation closely, and if it transpires that Jerome is being held due to his reporting, this would be a flagrant violation of his right to freedom of expression. Journalism is not a crime.”

A spokesman for the British High Commission in Nairobi said: “We are in contact with local authorities and are providing assistance to a British man following his detention in Nairobi.”

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.