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Two Ugandan journalists on a mission in Goma arrested for trying to communicate with dissident general

(JED/IFEX) - Paul Harera Sebikali and Robert Isaur, Ugandan journalists with the independent weekly "The Monitor" published in Kampala (capital of Uganda), have been detained since 3 October 2007 at the Intelligence Agency of the 8th Military District in eastern DR Congo. They are accused of being "in contact with the dissident General Laurent Nkunda."

On 9 October, Journaliste en danger (JED) met the two journalists, who reported that they were apprehended in Mugunga (15 km south of Goma), while heading to the Masisi territory, stronghold of the dissident troops led by General Laurent Nkunda. At the time of their detention, they were suspected of "attempting to deliver weapons to the dissident general." But according to Colonel Delphin Kayimbi, assistant commander of the 8th Military District, the two Ugandan journalists are officially accused for wanting "to make contact with the enemy of the DRC and to hold interviews without authorisation of the national army [Forces armées de la RDC, FARDC] in this war zone."

The two journalists told JED that they were sent by "The Monitor" to interview the dissident General Laurent Nkunda and to verify the authenticity of a press release that the National Congress of the People (Congrès national du peuple, CNDP, a politico-military movement led by Nkunda) apparently sent to the newspaper for publishing. They were carrying orders from their newspaper and had legitimately entered Goma.

Based on the information obtained by JED, the two Ugandan journalists did not commit any offence while seeking to verify the source of their information. It is thus aberrant to keep them in prolonged detention in a place that is completely outside the country's legal system. Consequently, JED calls on the commander of the 8th Military District to simply release these two journalists.

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