Blogger Alai to be charged over ‘alarming coronavirus post’

Blogger Robert Alai who is expected to be charged Monday, March 23, 2020 with allegedly publishing on social media alarming information about the coronavirus pandemic. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • He was arrested on Friday after claiming on Twitter that two people had died of Covid-19 in Mombasa.
  • He will face charges of contravening the Computer Misuse and Cyber Crimes Act, 2018.
  • Health CS Kagwe warned that the government will start arresting those spreading falsehoods on the coronavirus.

Police are expected to produce blogger Robert Alai in court for plea-taking in criminal charges related to publishing of alarming and false information about Covid-19 (novel coronavirus).

If found guilty, Mr Alai could be condemned to 10 years in jail.

The controversial blogger, who enjoys a huge following on social media, was arrested on Friday and locked at Muthaiga Police Station after claiming on Twitter that two people had died of Covid-19 in Mombasa.

KAGWE WARNING

According to the authorities, the move was in contravention of the Computer Misuse and Cyber Crimes Act, 2018.

Mr Alai was arrested a day after Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe warned that the government will start arresting those spreading falsehoods about the status of the deadly disease in the country.

The CS also appealed to the public to desist from any form of misinformation after social media was awash with speculations that the government would deploy the military to enforce a lockdown in Nairobi.

"These rumours must stop... but because I know empty appeals will not work, we will proceed and arrest a number of them to prove our point," said CS Kagwe.

MWINGI ARREST

On March 15 detectives in Mwingi arrested Mr Elijah Muthui Kitonyo, 23, for publishing information on the coronavirus which the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) termed as misleading and alarming.

Mr Kitonyo had claimed that the government was lying on details of the first Covid-19 patient.

"We urge members of the public to be responsible and to desist from authoring, publishing or sharing unconfirmed information that may cause panic and anxiety," said the DCI.

Section 23 of the Computer Misuse and Cyber Crimes Act of 2018 states that "A person who knowingly publishes information that is false in print, broadcast, data or over a computer system, that is calculated or results in panic, chaos, or violence among citizens of the republic, or which is likely to discredit the reputation of a person commits an offence
and shall on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding Sh5 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or to both."

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