DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – Two staff members of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), who were detained and had their passports confiscated by Tanzania immigration officials, were released on Thursday, South Africa’s foreign ministry said on Twitter.
“SA journalist, Angela Quintal & colleague are back in their hotel. SA’s High Commissioner Mr Thami Mseleku is meeting with them to discuss last night’s events,” South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation said on its twitter page.
“He will then engage Tanzanian authorities,” it said, referring to Mseleku.
The department’s spokesman, Ndivhuwo Mabaya, spoke to Quintal early on Thursday, it added.
Quintal works as the CPJ’s Africa programme coordinator while Mumo is the group’s sub-Saharan Africa representative.
They were on a reporting assignment in Tanzania when they were escorted from their hotel and taken to an unknown location in Tanzania’s commercial capital of Dar es Salaam, the CPJ said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Officers who identified themselves as working with the Tanzanian immigration authority detained Quintal and Mumo in their hotel room,” the CPJ said in the statement.
The officials searched their belongings and confiscated their passports and then took them away, the CPJ said. It called for their immediate release.
Immigration department spokesman Ali Mtanda said on Thursday he was trying to determine which government agency had detained the two CPJ staff and where they had been arrested.
“We are following up this matter closely … we will update the public in the afternoon,” he told Reuters.
The government of President John Magufuli has been criticised by opposition politicians and international rights groups for what they say is growing authoritarianism and intolerance of dissent.
The government has rejected the criticism.
The European Union this week said it would review its relations with Tanzania after an official in Dar es Salaam threatened to launch a crackdown on homosexuals.
(Additional reporting by Nuzulack Dausen; Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Robert Birsel)