| DAR ES SALAAM
DAR ES SALAAM Dec 16 Tanzania on Friday charged
the co-founder of a website where people can post comments on
officials they believe are corrupt with offences including
obstructing a police investigation.
Maxence Melo Mubyazi was arrested on Tuesday and has since
been held by police, who have also searched his office and home.
A charge sheet seen by Reuters showed that Mubyazi, 40,
managing director and co-founder of jamiiforums website, has
been charged with multiple counts of obstructing justice and
running a website that is not registered in Tanzania.
At his court appearance on Friday in Tanzania's commercial
capital Dar es Salaam, he denied the charges and was returned to
custody after an unsuccessful bail application.
According to the charge sheet, Mubyazi had been aware police
were conducting a criminal investigation of the content on his
website but, "with intent to obstruct investigation, did
unlawfully fail to comply with an order of disclosure of data in
The catchphrase of the jamiiforums website is "where we dare
to talk openly". Most users post their comments under
The site's managers have denied accusations by officials
that it allows users to post fabrications and seditious content.
Last year the east African country enacted a tough
cybercrimes law under which several people have been prosecuted
for violations including insulting the president, which is
punishable by up to three years in jail.
Rights activists have criticised the law, and the United
States has cancelled nearly $500 million of funding for the
country to express its disapproval.
Tanzania's President John Magufuli has won some praise from
western donors for an anti-corruption drive and cutting wasteful
public spending. Opponents accuse him of undermining democracy
by curbing dissent and stifling free speech.
Pressure group the Committee to Protect Journalists said in
a statement this week Tanzania should investigate corruption
allegations instead of "pressurising a website to violate its
users' trust and privacy".
(Editing by Elias Biryabarema and Andrew Roche)