Andrew Mwangura, program coordinator for the Seafarers' Assistance Program in Kenya, and source of information for the world's press during the recent build-up of piracy activity in Somali waters, has been arrested.
Mwangura has been the most reliable and apparently unbiassed source, often warning the world not to pay ransoms to encourage the pirates and compound the problem. Recently he was the first to report that the hijacked ship Faina contained weaponry, including battle tanks meant for the Sudan, not for Kenya, as part of a secret arms deal. The publication of this information has been a source of embarrassment for the Kenyan Government.
Mwangura has extensive contacts up and down the pirate-infested Somali coast. Kenyan officials have accused him of making false statements and working with the pirates.
'Why is it he always finds out what's happening on a ship before anyone else?' said Alfred Mutua, a Kenyan government spokesman.
Many seamen in Kenya insist that Mwangura is a good man, and that his only fault may have been being outspoken.
'Andrew has helped so many seafarers,' said Athman Seif, executive director of Kenya Marine Forum, which protects marine resources. Last year, Mwangura helped free Seif's brother-in-law, a sailor who Somali pirates held hostage for 6 weeks.
'This time he must have said something that did not auger well with the big guys,' Seif said.
With the arrest of Mwangura, it will be more difficult to obtain reliable information from the area.