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Two state TV journalists released after fifteen days in detention

(JED/IFEX) - Vincent Hata Mawika and Michel Shango Mpanya, journalists and union activists with state-owned Radio-Télévision Nationale Congolaise (RTNC) were released on 11 August 2007 at around 1:00 p.m. (local time) by the Kinshasa/Gombe High Court prosecutor on payment of US$120 bail each.

The journalists' release follows a request presented by the journalists' lawyer who, in a letter addressed to the public prosecutor on 8 August 2007, had deplored the fact that the arrest of the journalists happened prior to the actions for which they were accused. The journalists were arrested on 26 July, whereas the actions for which they were prosecuted took place on 27 July. This arrest appeared as "a form of intimidation to impose the law of silence within the RTNC", the lawyer said.

Hata and Shango were arrested on 26 July by agents of the Republican Guard on the orders of RTNC General Manager Kipolongo Mukambilwa. On 28 July, they were transferred to the headquarters of the Directorate for General Intelligence and Special Services (DRGS), after shortly being held at the Colonel Tshatshi military camp. The journalists were charged with "publicly insulting the president, trying to destabilise RTNC and discrediting the government by launching a strike and attempting to organise a union meeting despite the administrator's objections." They were called before the prosecutor on 8 August.

Eugène Risasi Tambwe, another journalist and union activist arrested on 27 July, was released on 31 July.

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