Home, office of digital activist searched

JamiiForums founder Maxence Melo has been in police custody for over 24 hours. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

Police have failed to charge or release digital activist Maxence Melo after holding him in custody for more than 24 hours, says his lawyer Jebra Kambole.

“Police have searched JamiiForums’ office and also Melo’s home. They are looking for JamiiForums’ user information — not just nicknames, but their real identities,” says Kambole.

“They took him from central police to his home and office without his lawyer’s consent, without a search warrant and without due procedure,” says Melo’s business partner Mike Mushi.

Mushi says police didn’t take anything, but made copies of documents.

“Melo is disappointed, but he knows people are talking about him,” says Kambole.

At the time of his arrest, Melo had already been out on bail after being charged for obstructing an investigation by refusing to release user identities in another case.

Melo, one of the founding fathers of social media in Tanzania, is outspoken opponent of the Cybercrime act and says he ‘fights surveillance by working to build secure platforms for open debate.’

Jamiiforums is a popular Swahili language hangout frequently used by whistleblowers to release sensitive information anonymously.

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