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US blasts Kenyan police raid on media group

Published Mar 4, 2006

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Washington - US officials on Friday blasted Kenyan police for raiding a news organisation that had irked the government of President Mwai Kibaki.

"We strongly condemn the actions by the Kenyan security forces," said state department deputy spokesperson Adam Ereli.

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"These actions constitute intimidation of journalists and a harassment of media. It undermines the right of Kenyans to information," he said.

"We call on the Kenyan government to cease such acts and respect internationally accepted norms of freedom of expression and media independence," Ereli said.

Police armed with AK-47 assault rifles early on Thursday stormed the headquarters of the Standard Group, Kenya's second-biggest media organisation, shutting down its television station and damaging its printing press, after a report that Kibaki had held secret talks with a political rival Kalonzo Musyoka, his former environment minister.

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The raid was the first by authorities on a mainstream media outlet since independence from Britain in 1963.

Since coming to power in late 2002, Kibaki's government has been beset by numerous defections and corruption scandals as well as a crushing defeat in a constitutional referendum.

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