Following an international outcry and negative media headlines in the wake of the arrest of South African journalists Angela Quintal and Muthoki Mumo from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the Tanzanian authorities have attempted to justify their detention claiming the two misrepresented their intentions for visiting Tanzania, the nation reported Friday.
The journalists were detained on Wednesday by Tanzanian immigration officials while on a reporting mission for the CPJ. They were eventually released by the authorities to their hotel in Dar es Salaam but their passports were withheld.
Following an international outcry, including from the US State Department, and the intervention of the Department for International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco), their passports were returned and the women were allowed to leave the country.
The crux of Tanzania’s immigration department’s defence was that the women on arrival in the country never informed immigration officials that they were there to carry out a journalism investigation and that prior to contacting local journalists they should have first contacted the authorities.
Immigration spokesperson Ally Mtanda told The Citizen that the department had arrested the two journalists and questioned them, saying: “they arrived in the country on October 31, 2018 through the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) in Dar es Salaam and they said the purpose of their trip was a normal visit.
“However our officials established that they started holding meetings with local journalists and that’s contrary to the conditions of their entry permits.”
He said that “if they were intending to hold meetings with journalists, then they should have contacted the relevant authorities before they started doing those activities”.
Confirming the journalists had safely left Tanzania, CPJ executive director Joel Simon in a statement urged the Tanzanian authorities “to halt their ongoing crackdown against a free press”.
“Angela Quintal and Muthoki Mumo travelled to Tanzania to understand the challenges facing the Tanzanian press and to inform the global public.”
“It is deeply ironic that through their unjustified and abusive detention of our colleagues, Tanzanian authorities have made their work that much easier.
“It is now abundantly clear to anyone who followed the latest developments that Tanzanian journalists work in a climate of fear of intimidation.”