charged with insulting president on WhatsApp
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[September 23, 2016]
DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - A
Tanzanian lecturer has been charged with insulting President John
Magufuli in a WhatsApp message, a senior police official said on Friday,
bringing the number of people charged under a tough new cybercrimes law
Magufuli, nicknamed "the bulldozer" for pushing through his policies,
has won some praise from Western donors for anti-corruption drives and
cutting wasteful government spending since coming to power in November.
But opponents accuse him of becoming increasingly authoritarian,
undermining democracy by curbing political activity and restricting live
television coverage of parliamentary sessions.
Insulting the president was made a criminal offense in Tanzania under a
cybercrimes law passed last year, punishable by up to three years in
jail, a fine of around $3,000, or both.
"The senior university lecturer was arraigned in court yesterday, and I
think he was later released on bail," Julius Mjengi, police chief of the
south-west Tanzanian town of Iringa told Reuters by telephone.
Police said the lecturer was charged with offenses under Tanzania's
strict cybercrimes law. The lecturer denies the charges.
"The number of people who have been arrested across the country thus far
for insulting the president has now risen to 10," Tanzanian newspaper
Mwananchi said in an article on Friday.
Those who have faced trial for insulting Magufuli in recent months
include students and opposition politicians.
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Tanzania's President John Pombe Magufuli addresses members of the
ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi Party (CCM) at the party's sub-head
office on Lumumba road in Dar es Salaam, October 30, 2015.REUTERS/Sadi
A U.S. aid agency in March canceled nearly $500 million of funding for Tanzania
partly on concerns over enforcement of the new cybercrimes law.
The U.S. government's Millennium Challenge Corporation said Tanzania has
"engaged in a pattern of actions inconsistent with MCC's eligibility criteria"
hence the decision to suspend its partnership with the East African nation.
(Reporting by Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala; Editing by Duncan Miriri and Hugh Lawson)
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