Kenya Set for Disagreement with China over Detained Suspected Chinese Cybercriminals

Kenya and China are set for a conflict after Kenya detained 75 Chinese nationals and a Taiwanese over cybercrime. The East African country which has been a darling of the Chinese in recent years has refused to repatriate the arrested Chinese cyber-criminals despite  a diplomatic avalanche of requests from the Chinese.

In December 2014, Kenyan police were called to a fire in one of Nairobi’s high end neighborhoods, Runda. The neighborhood is home to prominent politicians, expatriates and several embassies, including the American Embassy which is about two kilometers from the hose where the police were called to. Upon investigation, the law enforcement officers found that there were over 70 Chinese nationals living cramped in the compound, and a fire had broken out in one of the rooms, killing one of them.

Further investigation revealed what looked like a radio station and command center with all sorts of computer and Internet paraphernalia.

The discovery led to the Kenyan police calling the elite CID and NSSA officers who then ordered the arrest of the Chinese people for running an illegal radio communication station.

The 76 were promptly charged in court with running an illegal radio station, while awaiting the cyber crimes division of the Kenyan police to look deeper into the matter. As of today, the 76 are still being held by the Kenyan police.They have also been denied bail after being termed as flight risks.

The Chinese premier recently visited Kenya to speak with the Kenyan President and his government in the issues of economic partnership between the two countries. Of late, China has been a big trade partner for Kenya, the biggest actually, and China felt that it could impress on Kenya to repatriate the citizens. The Chinese ambassador to Kenya, was quoted saying “Taking into account the seriousness of the crime, the huge loss suffered by the Chinese victims and the friendly relations between China and Kenya, the Chinese government further requests the Kenyan government to repatriate the above mentioned suspects back to China at an early date,” in a letter leaked to Kenyan newspapers.

According to the Chinese authorities, the 76 were running a center from which they were stealing from Chinese nationals. The Chinese premier claimed that the suspected cybercriminals had stolen well over 100 million Yuans, an equivalent of $16.5 million.

The bone of contention here is that the Chinese want to try these people at home while the Kenyans are adamant that the crimes were committed from Kenyan soil and therefore have to be prosecuted in Kenya. Kenya’s highest ranking legal officer, the Attorney General Githu Muigai has been reported saying that he is of the opinion that the cases be tried according to Kenya’s laws as stipulated in the constitution.

It remains to be seen what will come of this situation. As things stand, Kenya is still not bulging and continues with the court process. If found guilty of cybercrime, the suspects are looking at over $54,000 in fines and 15 years in jail.

Top/Featured Image: By Aridd / Wikipedia (

Stephen Kiboi Steve Kiboi is a trained Statistician and career internet entrepreneur with interests in internet security and anonymity. He is a firm believer in the freedom of people to communicate and interact online. Steve is an avid sports fan who dabbles in male fashion in his downtime.
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