Misa, police differ on press freedom
Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa)- Malawi has accused the Malawi Police Service (MPS) of hacking the website of a non-governmental organisation (NGO).
However, MPS has dismissed the sentiments.
It all started with Misa-Malawi accusing the law enforcers of hacking Platform for Investigative Journalism (PIJ) website, which happened a week after police arrested its director-cum- journalist Gregory Gondwe and seized the company’s equipment.
A statement, which Misa-Malawi Chairperson Teresa Ndanga has signed, says Gondwe’s arrest and the hacking of the website could not be coincidental.
“The confiscation of Gondwe’s Information Technology (IT) equipment by the police already raised serious privacy concerns and this latest hacking incident vindicates such fears. We believe the hacking incident is not a mere coincidence. Misa- Malawi believes the hacking is intentional and we cannot rule out the involvement of State agents considering the circumstances.
“We are concerned that the police officers, who must be in the forefront to combat cyber-security risks of Malawians and others in the country, were directly involved in actions that qualify them as prime suspects in this cyber-attack. The hacking is a direct attack on media freedom, right to access information and a criminal offence under the Electronic Transactions and Cyber Security Act of 2016,” the statement reads.
The body calls on journalists in the country not to cower down to such intimidation tactics.
“The calling to practice journalism is to the service of society and where some groups take desperate measures to interfere with the work of the media is validation that journalists are on the right course. Misa- Malawi also appeals to rights bodies in the country, diplomatic missions and lawyers of good will to join us in the fight for media freedom and to further protect citizens’ right to know,” the statement reads.
But, in a separate statement, MPS has distanced itself from the hacking of the website, saying Misa lacks evidence to substantiate its claim.
“MPS observes that Misa-Malawi’s claim against it does not provide evidence to substantiate the accusation. The public may wish to be reminded that police is mandated to summon and interrogate any person who the police believes is required in the course of any investigation.
“In light of this, the MPS is calling on bodies with capacity to join hands with the police in ensuring that those behind the hacking of PIJ website are identified, arrested and prosecuted before the court of law,” MPS says in the statement.