Tanzania released two staff members of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Thursday, a day after they were detained and their passports seized, the South African Foreign Ministry said.
Tanzanian Immigration Department spokesman Ali Mtanda said Angela Quintal and Muthoki Mumo were arrested for violating the terms of their visas by holding meetings with local journalists. “They were supposed to get a separate permit for that,” he said.
President John Magufuli’s government has been criticised by opposition politicians and international rights groups for what they say is growing authoritarianism and intolerance of dissent. The government rejects the criticism.
Quintal, a South African citizen, and Mumo, a Kenyan, were detained in their Dar es Salaam hotel room by immigration officers and taken to an unknown location in the country’s commercial capital, according to the CPJ.
The two were freed on Thursday into the hands of South Africa‘s diplomatic mission. “They are safe and relieved that they are now with the High Commissioner of SouthAfrica, Thami Mseleku,” South Africa‘s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Mtanda said Quintal and Mumo were free to stay on in Tanzania as long as they heeded the terms of their 90-day visa.
Quintal works as the CPJ’s Africa programme coordinator while Mumo is the group’s sub-Saharan Africa representative.
The European Union said this week it would review its relations with Tanzania after an official in Dar es Salaam threatened to launch a crackdown on homosexuals.