This morning, renowned Kenyan Blogger and tech-preneur Robert Alai is expected to be produced in court for plea-taking in criminal charges related to publishing of false information about the current COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
If found guilty, Mr. Alai could see himself serve a jail sentence of up to 10 years.
The controversial blogger, who enjoys a huge following on social media, was arrested on Friday and locked at Muthaiga Police Station after claiming on Twitter that two people had died of the virus in Mombasa.
According to the authorities, the move was in contravention of the Computer Misuse and Cyber Crimes Act, 2018.
His arrest – which has been heavily criticized by his counterparts is the highly competitive field of blogging – came just a day after Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe boldly declared that the government would start arresting those spreading falsehoods about the status of the deadly disease in the country.
Alai was in June last year arrested for allegedly sharing gory pictures of policemen who were killed in a terror attack in Wajir.
He was charged with treachery and disclosure of information after being held for two weeks but was released on Ksh. 300,000 bail after he denied the charges.
One month ago, in a move widely viewed as a blow to freedom of speech, the High Court declared the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act of 2018 constitutional.
With the suspended sections coming back into force, it is now an offence to publish any information that may discredit the reputation of a person, constitute hate speech, advocate for vilification of others or incitement to hatred or ethnic incitement if that information is considered to be false, misleading or fictitious.
This provision brings back criminal defamation, which the High Court had in a 2017 petition declared unconstitutional and inconsistent with the freedom of expression.
While the Act creates the offence of child pornography, which is a welcome provision, it further criminalises downloading or generally making any pornography, available in any electronic device.
Basically, it is a criminal offence to take and share your own nudes and the penalty is either a fine of more than Ksh. 20 million or imprisonment for up to 25 years.