Last night close to a hundred hooded men armed with AK-47s stormed the Standard Newspaper‘s central office in Nairobi, Kenya, destroying papers and temporarily halting production. The raid, which was carried out simultaneously with one on the Kenya Television Network, involved the destruction of printing presses, the burning of thousands of newspapers and the beating of staff members. The Kenyan government, considered democratic, has previously accused the Standard of inventing stories on several occasions.
Corruption has raged through the Kenyan government as of late, and the media has fostered political tension by calling into question a series of secret meetings between Kenya President Mwai Kibaki and his main opponent, former Environment Minister Kalonzo Musyoka. The article on that secret rendezvous, published Saturday, led to the detention of three Standard reporters yesterday. After divulging all they knew, and asked to reveal their sources, the journalists were instructed to wait for further instructions “from above.”
Information Minister Mutahi Kagwe says he knows nothing about the raids, yet earlier in the week he had threatened government intervention if publications continue their “misreporting and misrepresentation.” As he put it: “If you rattle a snake, you must be prepared to be bitten by it.” The police now admit to the raid, calling it a “sweep” to gather evidence important to national security.