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Belgium irked by mistreatment of its journalists in Nairobi

Belgium has written a protest note to Kenya following allegations that local police extorted money from two visiting journalists they suspected to be terrorists.

Two Belgian journalists – Filip Huygens and Abukar Said were arrested together with a Kenyan driver near United Nations (UN) offices in Gigiri.

They had requested permission to photograph the entrance of the UN complex but the permission was not granted.

Though they did not take any photographs, their request seemed to have raised suspicion and police were alerted. 

The three were then arrested and put in custody in Gigiri police station.

The officers afterwards handed them over to detectives from the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) who interrogated them but later informed them that they would be released. 

The letter from The Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium in Nairobi, dated April 28, indicates that even after the Belgians were cleared by the ATPU in the evening, the officers at Gigiri refused to release their passports and equipment unless they paid Sh35,000.

“The payment of this sum will be considered by the journalists as a bribe since no official receipt was given,” the letter read. 

Gigiri OCPD Vitalis Otieno, however, distanced, himself from the allegations, saying the suspects were released by the by CID officers.

“The Gigiri station commander handed over the suspects to both the ATPU and Gigiri CID officers who later released them. I am not aware of such allegations but we can investigate,” he said.