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Man arrested for publishing alarming information on coronavirus

By Amina Wako March 16th, 2020 2 min read

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) on Sunday arrested a man for publishing misleading and alarming information on the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak in the country.

Elijah Muthui Kitonyo, 23, was arrested for publishing a viral tweet that purported to expose the first confirmed Covid-19 patient in the country.

His tweet, which has since been pulled down, contradicted the statement issued by the government about the first patient who tested positive for the virus after flying back home on March 5 from the US through London.

His post was widely shared on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp.

The user behind the tweet, who claimed to be an employee of the National carrier KQ, warned Kenyans not to believe the government’s ‘lies’ over the spread of the dreaded virus.

According to the DCI, the suspect will be charged for publishing false information that is calculated or results in panic contrary to section 23 of the Computer Misuse and Cyber Crimes Act of 2018.

Section 23 of the act states: ‘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 offense and shall on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding five million shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or to both.’

The DCI further warned Kenyans against sharing false or misleading information as they could be arrested and prosecuted.

“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,” warned DCI on twitter.

The government through spokesperson Cyrus Oguna said it had taken note of videos online with alarming information about coronavirus and the videos had been forwarded to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations for investigation and punitive action to be taken.

“The fake and alarming videos on #covid19kenya #coronaInkenya have been forwarded to the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) for investigations, arrest, and prosecution of such individuals,” Oguna said.

Further, the government stated that the only channels it is using on twitter to share information on the Covid-19  are the Ministry of Health’s (@Moh_Kenya) and The Government Spokesperson’s (@SpokespersonGoK).