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TV journalist released after overnight detention for allowing criticism of local authorities to be aired

(JED/RSF/IFEX) - The following is an 11 July 2008 JED and RSF joint press release:

Intelligence agents hold TV journalist overnight at provincial governor's behest

Reporters Without Borders and its partner organisation in Democratic Republic of Congo, Journalist in Danger (JED), are relieved to learn that Mila Dipenge of privately-owned TV station Télé Kindu Maniema in Kindu, the capital of the eastern province of Maniema, was released at midday on 11 July 2008.

A programme host and cameraman, Dipenge was arrested on 10 July by the National Intelligence Agency (ANR).

"Dipenge was held for 24 hours by ANR agents for allowing Kindu residents to express their views," the two organisations said. "We firmly condemn such behaviour by the intelligence services and we point out they have no legal authority to raid a news media. This act of intimidation at the behest of a senior political figure must not recur."

The host of a daily programme called "The people have the word," Dipenge was released at 12:45 p.m. today after spending 24 hours being held by the ANR. He was arrested yesterday morning, when ANR agents carried out a raid on the studios of Télé Kindu Maniema, the local branch of Tele Kin Malebo. Local sources said the raid was ordered by Governor Lingo because Dipenge allowed criticism of the local authorities to be voiced on the air.

People interviewed on 8 and 9 July criticised increases in taxes on local businessmen and retailers. The governor was said to have been particularly irked by a money-changer's comment that: "We like Kabila, but we no longer want the people he has installed here."

The TV station's recordings of its programmes were seized after the raid, while local financial and administrative officials began an audit of the station. One of the oldest TV stations in Maniema province, Télé Kindu Maniema is owned by an opposition senator.

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