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Kenya Press Crackdown


Police in Nairobi, Kenya, wearing hoods and armed with AK-47 assault weapons, raided the offices of the Kenya Television Network, owned by the Standard Media Group. They forced the transmitter to be shut down and took away office computers. Four staff members were taken to a police station and released after two hours.

Kenyan police also raided the building housing the Standard Media Group's newspaper, the Standard, Kenya's oldest newspaper. Much equipment was destroyed and thousands of newspapers were set on fire. The Standard has been critical of the way the government of President Emilip Mwai Kibaki has handled recent allegations of corruption. In February, Kenyan police raided the offices of the Weekly Citizen, a tabloid that also published a negative report on Mr. Kibaki.

The Paris, France-based independent monitoring group, Reporters Without Borders, issued a written statement saying, "This police operation is completely unacceptable." Reporters Without Borders says, "If the government has a quarrel with the media that's one thing, but nothing can justify this brutal police raid."

U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli says the U.S. "strongly condemn[s] the actions by the Kenyan security forces":

"Our embassy in Nairobi put out a statement saying that such acts of thuggery have no place in an open society and we call on the government of Kenya to crease its intimidation."

The attacks in Kenya, says Mr. Ereli, "constitute intimidation of journalists and harassment of media":

"It undermines the right of Kenyans to information. And we call upon the government of Kenya to cease such acts and respect internationally accepted norms of freedom of expression and media independence."

In Kenya and elsewhere, says State Department spokesman Adam Ereli, the United States will seek to hold countries accountable for acts and policies that deny "their citizens the rights which they deserve."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.

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