Robert Alai may be first blogger charged under new anti-terrorism law

Wednesday June 19 2019

Blogger Robert Alai and his co-accused Mr

Blogger Robert Alai and his co-accused Mr Patrick Safari in a Nairobi court on June 19, 2019. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

ABIUD OCHIENG
By ABIUD OCHIENG
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Blogger Robert Alai could become the first Kenyan to be charged under the controversial anti-terrorism law that targets publishers of information, including media houses, publications, journalists and bloggers.

Police had on Monday warned him over publishing of photos of terror victims, but arrested him on Tuesday over the same offence.

Mr Alai had posted pictures of officers who died in Wajir on Twitter prompting a swift warning from police spokesperson Charles Owino who said such acts will not be tolerated.

The police have stated that Mr Alai’s offence was disclosure of information in relation to terrorism activities.

PROSECUTION

Section 27 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2012 provides that, “a person who publishes, distributes or otherwise avails information intending to directly or indirectly incite another person or a group of persons to carry out a terrorist act commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding thirty years.”

Section 19 of the same Act also provides that, “a person who, knowing or having reasonable cause to suspect that an officer is conducting an investigation under this Act, discloses to another person anything which is likely to prejudice the investigation, or interferes with material which is relevant to the investigation, commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twenty years.”

It is not clear which sections of the law the prosecution will rely on to prove their case, but Mr Alai will have to put a spirited legal fight to prove otherwise.

He is expected in court on Wednesday, when the prosecution is likely to prefer charges against him or seek more time to conclude investigations.

CONTROVERSIES

The controversial blogger will be charged by a prosecutor from the Office of the Director of Criminal Investigations, with police officers, in this case the investigations officer, appearing as a key witness.

Mr Alai is not new to controversy and the court corridors.

He was charged in 2016 over a post on his Twitter account touching on the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission boss, Halakhe Waqo’s education credentials.

He has also locked horns with personalities such as former radio queen Caroline Mutoko, student leader Paul Ongili alias Babu Owino, and President Uhuru Kenyatta who took him to court due to his comments on social media.

Mr Alai was also arraigned in a Kiambu court in 2014 for undermining the authority of President Kenyatta, through a post on Twitter. He was later freed on a Sh300,000 bond.