The two journalists who were arrested by Tanzanian authorities on Wednesday violated their visa conditions, the country's Immigration Department has said.
CPJ's sub-Saharan Africa representative Muthoki Mumo, a Kenyan, and Angela Quintal, CPJ's Africa program coordinator were picked from their hotel in Dar es Salaam, taken to a secret location and questioned for several hours before being released.
Tanzania's Immigration Spokesperson Ally Mtanda said the duo violated their stated purpose of visit to the country.
“They arrived in the country on October 31, through the Julius Nyerere International Airport, in Dar es Salaam and they said the purpose of their trip is a normal visit,” Mtanda said.
“However, our officials established that they were holding meetings with local journalists and that’s contrary to the conditions of their entry permits,” he added.
Mtanda said officials from the immigration department taught them on complying with the entry permit conditions before releasing them.
He said the duo should have contacted the relevant authorities if their intention was to hold meetings with journalists.
“The entry permits forbid employment or business activities. If they want to engage themselves in anything more than a normal visit then they have to request appropriate permits,” Mtanda said.
In a statement, CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said the two journalists left Tanzania on Thursday after their passports were handed back to them.
He said during their detention, Quintal and Mumo's phones and computers were also seized.
“While they were detained, a false tweet saying they had been released was sent from Quintal's personal Twitter account and repeated attempts were made to access Quintal's email,” Simon said.
Simon revealed that Quintal and Muthoki were in Tanzania to understand the challenges facing the Tanzanian press and to inform the world about it.
He said the unfortunate detention of the two reporters had ironically made their work easier by exposing the unfriendly environment that Tanzanian journalists work under.
“It is now abundantly clear to anyone who followed the latest developments that Tanzanian journalists work in a climate of fear of intimidation,” Simon said.
He thanked the Kenyan and South African authorities for speaking out about the detention and assisting in the release of the journalists.
Simon called on Tanzanian authorities to halt their crackdown against a free press and allow journalists to work freely and to allow those who defend their rights to access the country without interference.