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Five Raga TV journalists released after being held for 24 hours; one still missing

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders notes the release of five journalists from the privately-owned Raga TV who had been held for 24 hours at an undisclosed location. The journalists were freed on 20 November 2008.

"We were all released this evening. We were in trouble over the broadcast of an interview with an opposition figure who made comments seen as offensive to the head of state," Director of Programmes Mbuyi Bwebwe told Agence France-Presse. "On the other hand, we have no news of the journalist who did the interview, who may still be in hiding," he added.

Mbuyi Bwebwe and studio managers Faustin Bwanakawa and Jules Pata were arrested at around 8:00 p.m. (local time) on 19 November when around a dozen armed men in plain clothes burst into the station, seizing the tape for the evening news bulletin and blacking out the transmitter. Shortly after the resumption of broadcasts the following day, news editor Rosette Mamba and reporter Robert Muila were arrested in turn by two men in plain clothes who called themselves agents of the National Intelligence Agency (ANR).

According to Reporters Without Borders' partner organisation in the country, Journalist in Danger (JED), the five arrests followed Raga TV's broadcast on the 7:00 p.m. news of an interview with Roger Lumbala, an opposition deputy and president of the Rally for Congolese Democrats and Nationalists (RCDN).

Lumbala said in the interview that the replacement of General Kayembe by General Etumba as head of chief of staff of the armed forces chief of the Democratic Republic of Congo reflected a "state of panic" around the head of state. "You don't change the head of the chief of staff in wartime. Did Kayembe have the resources he needed?" he wondered aloud. Lumbala also criticised the establishment of an office for the head of state within the parliament building.

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