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Police summon and interrogate freelance journalist

(MISA/IFEX) - On 19 November 2009, police in the Singida region of Tanzania summoned and interrogated freelance journalist Jumbe Ismailly for two hours and nine minutes, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:09 p.m., on allegations of having defamed Regional Commissioner Parseko Kone. Upon releasing him, the police told Ismailly that they will be calling him as part of an ongoing investigation against him.

According to Ismailly, he was interrogated at the office of the Singida Regional Crime Investigation Officer (RCO) for allegedly reporting and broadcasting information that defamed the Singida regional commissioner. Ismailly, a reporter for the "Kulikoni" and "Tanzania Daima" Swahili daily newspapers and Channel Ten television station, said he was told by police during the interrogation that the regional commissioner was not happy with his reporting on regional issues and issues pertaining to the commissioner himself. Ismailly noted that he was interrogated by a police officer with the identification number of E.6940 D/CPL, who identified himself only by the name of Lugendo. The police officer told the reporter that the regional commissioner had submitted complaints against him to the regional police starting on 11 August.

The police officer explained to the reporter that Kone had complained that he has been defamed several times by journalists from the Singida region. The reporter was presented with press clippings of stories he wrote about the regional commissioner since 2006. He said the stories presented to him included the headlines "Singida Regional Commissioner To Be Taken To Court by Villagers", published in "Kulikoni" on 17 March, "Six Government Officials in Police Custody for Failing to Organise a Meeting", published in the "Nipashe" newspaper in 2006, and "Regional Commissioner Stops Employment of Member of Parliament's Husband", published in "Tanzania Daima" in January 2007.

Ismailly said Kone also complained that during one of his 5 March meetings in the village of Kisasida, journalists uttered insults against him. Although Ismailly acknowledged that he wrote the above mentioned stories, which he said were based on truth and facts, he denied having attended the meeting in Kisasida village.

He acknowledged that he was not beaten or intimidated during the interrogation. He was discharged at 1:09 p.m. the same day.

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