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Kenya charges AFP photographer with ‘trespassing’ at dairy

November 6, 2017

The chief photographer for Agence France-Presse (AFP) in east Africa appeared in court Monday after 48 hours in police custody, charged with trespassing on a property belonging to the president’s family.

Japanese photographer Yasuyoshi Chiba, 46, was arrested on Friday afternoon at a farm belonging to the Brookside dairy company which is owned by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s family.

He had gone to photograph the company logo after the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) named Brookside as one of three companies its supporters should boycott as part of a “resistance” campaign following disputed presidential elections.

Chiba, accompanied by an AFP driver, entered the property after finding a gate open, and a green traffic light at the entrance.

The photographer shot three frames of a milk tanker with the Brookside logo on it, and a fourth of the same logo attached to a fence.

Security officers called the police after stopping the photographer, who refused to delete his pictures.

Chiba was held in a police station in Ruiru, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the capital Nairobi, where two officers from the anti-terrorism unit interrogated him, searching his laptop, cellphone and camera.

The photographer, who has won several World Press Photo awards, was freed on bail on Sunday afternoon. The driver was released Saturday without charge.

Prosecutors decided to charge Chiba for “trespassing on a private property”, which is punishable by a fine of around 5,000 shillings (45 euros).

The next hearing will take place on Wednesday.

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