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Dictator Magufuli

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Tanzanian investigative journalist Erick Kabendera arrives at the Kisutu Residents Magistrate Court in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania August 19, 2019. REUTERS/Emmanuel Herman/File Photo

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – A Tanzanian court on Wednesday postponed the hearing for the eighth time of a prominent Tanzanian journalist arrested in July in a case his lawyers and rights group say is politically motivated.

Police arrested Dar es Salaam-based journalist Erick Kabendera in July and he was charged in August with leading organised crime, failing to pay taxes and money laundering.

His lawyers reject the charges.

His trial has not begun. At each of the eight hearings since August, prosecutors have told the court that investigations were not complete.

Last month, Kabendera’s lawyer Jebra Kambole told the court that he is pursuing a plea bargain. On Wednesday, Kambole told the court that the process had not reached a conclusion.

Rights groups say press freedom has nosedived since President John Magufuli took office in 2015. On his watch the government has shut newspapers and websites as well as arrested opposition leaders and restricted political rallies.

The government has rejected criticism that it is muzzling the media.

Reporting by Nuzulack Dausen; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Giles Elgood

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