DENNIS ITUMBI: Now Blogger To Spend Weekend Behind Bars

Posted on March 23, 2012

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Popular journalist and blogger Dennis Itumbi may be charged on Monday for allegedly hacking the International Criminal Court website, but still the final word will come from investigators handling his case.

But the specific charges and their details are hard to come by at this point.

“He will be charged on Monday for hacking the ICC website,” a source told the Jackal News. Police remanded him in Kileleshwa police station. Several other sources said a final decision is yet to come.

Itumbi confirmed that was in Kileleshwa Police station in the first tweet, which read: “Thanks good people .its true im spending the weekend at Kileleshwa. Keep the love,” and in the second, added hilariously: “Kileleshwa station is very friendly -making new sources -the next blog on monday you have to read it.”

He was arrested and questioned over the origin of a document claiming that the British government was pushing for the indictment of President Kibaki by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and allegations that an ICC email account was hacked has raised a firestorm on the social networking sites and in the media, sources told the Jackal.

The Jackal News sources said they understood that, besides the ”UK document” issue, his detention is also part of police investigation into the claims by the ICC prosecutor that some witnesses in the case against four Kenyans had been threatened.

It is not clear whether the document was a forgery, but source explained that police had stalled over the matter because Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo, who tabled the document in parliament, is protected by Absolute Privilege – meaning he cannot be questioned over what happened in the House.

So where did the document come from. “Itumbi is suspected of leaking the ICC document,” a police source said. That does not explain where it came from, because, when the document was leaked, Itumbi said “I do not know where the document came from, in fact I saw after it was tabled in parliament.”

Another source explained that police were probing allegations that the ICC website was hacked. “All we know is that the ICC website was not hacked, what was hacked is an email account of an ICC witness,” a source explained.

Itumbi was arrested by about 10 Criminal Investigations Department (CID) officers in Embu Thursday evening, in the company of two young people – a man and a woman – and brought to Nairobi for questioning.

“Itumbi and two other young people were going to Embu where he was the guest of honour in a drama festival,” said a source. At least 10 or so CID officers who arrested them and confiscated their mobile phones, switched them off and removed the batteries so that nobody could track them.

They then instructed Itumbi to wear sun glasses (shades), and then compared his face with a photo of him they had. They confirmed he was the man they had been tracking for some time.

On reaching Nairobi, they booked them at Muthaiga Police Station. Then, they took away their mobile phones and recorded their serial numbers. Up to now, it was not clear whether they would return the mobile phones.

Then, the investigators asked him to bring over his laptop, which he refused and told them that he tweets from his Nokia phone.

As of mid-day Friday, Itumbi and the two friends were transferred to CID headquarters for further questioning. Sources said that two friends are guilty by association and would be released. KTN reported on Twitter that the police planned to move to court and seek leave to detain him for more time as they conduct further investigation.

It was not immediately clear the nature of evidence that police may have against him over the document tabled in parliament on March 8, a move that touched firestorm in the assembly. Recently, Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim said that for a document to be accepted in parliament, it only requires a signature and a date.

Speculation on Twitter suggested that police had been arrested him for having access to ‘‘classified documents’’, whatever that means.

His arrest came amid a move by the journalist last week that he had given a notice to sue a blogger, Robert Alai, who allegedly linked him to the writing of the document, which also claimed that the British government was seeking the detention, by ICC, of MPs William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta.

‘‘Media freedom is under threat in this country. The new constitution, even if it was voted on overwhelmingly is not working,’’ Itumbi told reporters from Muthaiga Police station early Friday.

‘‘No matter the nature of intimidation, I will not reveal the sources of the information I have. It is suicidal. I will die for it,’’ he said, suggesting that police may be seeking to question him about what he knows about the controversial document.

Last week, Itumbi, through his lawyer, issued a formal complaint against Robert Alai, asking him to apologize for allegedly linking him to the ‘‘British government’’ document or, failure to which, he would institute legal proceedings. Itumbi has said he is not the source of the document in question.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Githu Muigai has ordered police to investigate claims by the ICC prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, of email hacking and intimidation of witnesses.

Muigai said that he had received a complaint from Ocampo that there was “hacking of email accounts of a person of interest” to his office. Previously, Itumbi, a graduate from the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication, has worked for media organizations before he started his own communication and political consultancy. He is also a regional bureau chief for a South African website.

Of late, he offered consultancy services for many politicians, including Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta. “The family members have called and sent SMS messages to so many top politicians that Itumbi works for, but they have refused to reply, which begs the question why?” a source told the Jackal News.

“Have they used and dumped him or what are they hiding,” the source added. But the nagging question remains, did he have access to classified information while working for the politicians as a consultant?

And if the ICC dossier was a forgery, why did the British government make such a fuss over the issue, even dispatching a minister to Nairobi?

(Originally Published @ Thejackalnews.com)
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