Blogger Edgar Obare’s lawyer, Titus Munene Kinyua, spoke in an interview on Sunday, July 2, days after his client hit the headlines after being arrested in Kisumu County.
Obare, known for his social media exposés on well-known celebrities, was arrested on Thursday, July 30 and transported by police to Nairobi. He is currently being held at the Gigiri Police Station.
Kinyua revealed that Obare would be charged with exposure of private data in contravention of Section 72 of the Data Protection Act. He is set to be arraigned in court on Monday, July 3.
Obare becomes one of the first big casualties of the controversial act which was enacted in November 2019 with the aim of regulating the collection and processing of data in Kenya.
It introduced various obligations for persons collecting and processing data as well as stiff penalties for infringement.
The blogger was accused of sharing confidential travel documents of a popular model and influencer whom he linked to a private jet trip taken by a high-profile politician.
Kinyua claimed that the Act reversed gains made by Kenyans in the quest for freedom of speech, further claiming that police ignored due process in Obare’s arrest.
According to Kinyua, the blogger was descended on by 10 police officers at home who forced him to sign a search warrant before confiscating his gadgets including phones and laptops.
“Due process was not followed. It was pure police intimidation. He was arrested by 10 officers as if he is a dangerous criminal.
“They forced him into signing a search warrant, they confiscated his gadgets which are his means of trade. They arrested him on a Thursday in line with the ‘Kamata Kamata Fridays’ to be able to keep him in custody over the weekend,” he disclosed.
Kinyua claimed that police seemed to be under instructions from a powerful individual to harass and intimidate Obare, wondering why he was denied bail.
He, however, confirmed that the blogger was safe after Obare posted on social media that he was concerned for his safety sparking the #FreeEdgarObare campaign which quickly gained traction.
“I am not safe and I don’t feel safe where am being held, I have struggled with getting bail but now I understand why it’s being denied,” the blogger had written on Friday, July 31.
Kinyua maintained that the charges against Obare were part of deliberate efforts to deprive Kenyans of freedom of speech, including through legislations such as the Data Protection Act.
“(The Act) is meant to claw back the gains achieved in the Constitution 2010. What it is doing is taking back the rights people died for to be achieved in the Constitution. We’re a free country,” he stated, arguing that defamation was a civil matter.