NAIROBI, Kenya---Sen. Barack Obama told Kenyan President Kibaki on Friday that two Chicago TV crews faced shake-downs at the Nairobi airport and paid bribes of $800 and $1,000 to get their equipment past customs agents.
Obama made the statement during a morning meeting with the Kenyan president and a number of other ministers. The Illinois Senator, who already planned to deliver a speech on government corruption here, mentioned the incidents during a discussion, a source in the U.S. embassy in Nairobi told me.
Crews from CBS2 Chicago and the Media Process Group, also based in Chicago, had already arranged to pay about $1,000 each to have an "expediter'' meet them at the airport to walk them through customs.
While countries have legitimate concerns about people trying to smuggle in high-end electronics for resale in a country, the crews paid the expediters in the face of having no transparent, upfront process to follow.
The situation in Nairobi was so bad, even the "expediters'' could not break through the corruption.
At a briefing on Thursday night, Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs told the crews, "both of you will be on tomorrow's agenda with the president of Kenya.''
The embassy source said that President Kibaki replied that he was trying to root out corruption--and may try to get the money back.