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Location of journalist in detention now known, authorities deny family visit, access to lawyer, doctor

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the detention of Nsimba Embete Ponte, the editor of "L'Interprète", a small-circulation fortnightly newspaper, for no known reason since 7 March 2008. He is being held incommunicado in a building used by the National Intelligence Agency (ANR) in Kinshasa.

"The security forces have no grounds for acting in this way," the press freedom organisation said. "Whatever the reasons for Ponte's arrest, his family has a right to know them, and to be able to visit him. Ponte, for his part, must be able to defend himself, or else the ANR will be committing a serious violation of a citizen's rights and will have to be sanctioned according to the law."

Ponte was arrested by armed men at the "Pascal" bus stop in Masina, a municipality to the east of Kinshasa, at 7:30 a.m. (local time) on 7 March, eye-witnesses told Journalistes en Danger (JED), the Reporters Without Borders partner organisation in Democratic Republic of Congo.

After several days without news of him, his wife and two brothers finally located him at an ANR building on the bank of the Congo river, near the prime minister's office. Police on duty told them they could not see him, and threatened to arrest them if they insisted. No official reason has been given for his arrest or continuing detention. He has not been able to see a lawyer or a doctor, in violation of article 19 of the constitution, which guarantees the rights of detainees.

JED said that prior to his arrest, Ponte reported being threatened as a result of a series of articles on 29 February about President Joseph Kabila's health.

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