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Tanzania: Blogger arrested for publishing manipulated images of the president

The alleged owner and blogger of the blog Ze Utamu (zeutamu.com) has been arrested in Tanzania.

The alleged arrest has been in discussed at Jamii Forum, a popular Tanzanian Online Forum, since yesterday. And today, Swahili Time has posted the news along with a picture of the arrested blogger, Malecela Peter Lusinde, 39, an IT consultant from Essex in the UK.

Swahili Time reports that Tanzania’s police in cooperation with their UK counterparts have collected enough evidence to conclude that Lusinde is the owner of Ze Utamu Blog which was blocked in February after publishing manipulated photographic images depicting Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete engaging in lewd sex acts.

Legal aspects of the arrest are not yet clear. Tanzania does not allow dual citizenship and since Mr Lusinde is a UK citizen of Tanzanian origin, it is not yet known under which law Lusinde will be charged. The post in the Swahili Times says:

Habari zilizothibitishwa zinadai kuwa Ndg Malecela amerudishwa Tanzania kwenda kujibu tuhuma mbalimbali za kuendesha mtandao uliokuwa unadhalilisha watu,kuna malalamiko 6850 yaliyoandikishwa kulaumu udhalilishwaji wa watu uliofanywa na mtandao huo […]

Haijaeleweka wazi Ndg Malecela atashitakiwa kwa sheria gani? Lakini ni wazi kwamba atashitakiwa Nchini Tanzania.Licha ya Ndg. Malecela Polisi wa Upelelezi wamezungumza na Watanzania wengine wawili katika miji ya Wichita na San Diego Nchini Marekani,ambao pia wanahusishwa na Mtandao huo wa Ze Utamu.

According to confirmed reports Ndg malecela has been deported to Tanzania to face several charges related to operating a website that was degrading people, there are 6850 registered complaints against the site […]

It is not clear under which law Ndg Malecela will be charged. Also detectives have spoken to two Tanzanians in Wichita and San Diego in America in relation to their involvement with Ze utamu blog.

Besides legal aspects, members at Jamii Forum also commented on the perceived double standards. Semilong said:

Is utamu the biggest ever crime committed by a Tanzanian?

watu wa JF kwa double standards wanashabikia zeutamu kukamatwa na wakati watu wana loot nchi yetu wanatembea huru
wangeshirikiana na interpool kuhakikisha hela zilizokuwa duabi, jerzey na kwinginepo zinarudi TZ ingekuwa ni jambo la maana kulikoni zeutamu[…]

Is utamu the biggest ever crime committed by a Tanzanian?

JF people have double standards they support the arrest of Ze utamu while looters of our country walk free…
They should have collaborated with Interpol to make sure that all the money stashed in Dubai, Jersey and other places is returned to Tanzania […]

Also at Jamii Forum, BlueRay supporting the arrest adds:

Your argument is weak. Two wrongs do not make a right. We do not want British citizens (of Tanzanian origin or not) to fling unchecked rampant numerous unfounded character assassinations on Tanzanians.

Does the Tanzanian government project a sense of misguided priority in pursuing this rather than EPA , of course, yes. But it is also possible that this was a quick slam dunk because this guy left his tracks left right and centre, IT consultant indeed! … What saddens me is that it took gross and pornographic caricaturing of the president himself for this to happen.

My concern is our internet laws are practically non existent, and our jurisdiction may be limited because this presumably happened over British web servers (?) by a British subject. So if the guy gets a good attorney, and the government does not use extrajudicial means (if it does not Ghailani him under some autocratic anti-terrorism preventive-detention like draconian)

The guy may walk scot free.

* Global Voices Online has not verified the information published in the blogs covered on this post.

4 comments

  • One step forward twenty steps backwards. That’s is the march towards dual citizenship acceptance in TZ.

    As a former underground campaigner within my country for the understanding and ratification of dual citizenship and as a fomer worker abroad I’m amazed at how short sighted a few of our own people abroad have falleb short of creativeness, patriotism and self-awareness to be scavengers of capitalist secretions. Internet and computer are no longer tools of creativeness to them but rather hoes to unearth buried carcasses of poisoned cow.

    Slave riders are running behind you with lashes guv.

  • […] The map has its glitches. When I selected “Unknown,” Tanzanian blogger Malecela Peter Lusinde […]

  • It is right time for Tanzania government to make the same effort as they did to make sure the stolen money from external payment account EPA is returned back to help the poor Tanzanian who are starving for hunger. And to use the same investigative approach to Chenge who said to have about 1 billion shillings in the uk and the issue of kagoda and mchuchuma mining. if they do the same then i will congratulates them for what they did to “Ze Utamu” owner.

    Kikwete wake up.

    otherwise i will have no comment on arresting the Ze utamu

  • ELIUD COSMAS

    tanzania we need to make sure that those money which are out side our nation are collected as soon as posible

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