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Police raid Kenya media offices

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Plainclothes police burned tens of thousands of copies of The Standard newspaper on Thursday.

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Masked police carrying AK-47 assault rifles have raided the television station and newspaper owned by Kenya's second-largest media group and briefly detained four journalists.

A police spokesman said in a statement hours after Thursday's early morning raid that authorities conducted the sweep to collect evidence about a plot that would threaten national security.

"They went straight to the transmission studios and instructed the staff there to switch off the transmitters," said KTN Managing Editor Farida Karoney.

"They then took away the computers in the studio, took away the all tapes for today's programs and then they came into the newsroom, dismantled all the computers and went away with them," the editor added.

The police spokesman said journalists at the Standard had been paid to write a series of fabricated articles about the government, and that police were acting on intelligence information about "an intended act" that would threaten national security.

The spokesman denied, however, that police had a hand in burning newspapers.

An employee at the printing plant said police forced the workers to do it.

"All of us were told to lie down, then ... they ordered us to take the all the newspapers outside there where they forced us to burn all of them," said Raphael Mutila.

The raids came two days after three other Standard journalists were detained without charges after the publication of an article alleging a meeting between Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and a key opponent, former Environment Minister Kalonzo Musyoka.

Both men deny the meeting, and Musyoka said the government is just using the story as a pretext to crack down on the Kenyan news media.

Intimidation of the news media was frequent in Kenya under Kibaki's predecessor, but since his election in 2002 the country has largely enjoyed freedom of the press.

However, in the last few months, the Kenyan government has been under fire over allegations of corruption reported by the news media.

Information Minister Mutahi Kagwe said he knows nothing about the raids, but earlier this week he threatened government action if the media continued what he called "misreporting and misrepresentation."

Journalist Marie Lora contributed to this report.

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