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Radio journalist interrogated after call-in show airs critical views

(JED/IFEX) - JED is outraged by the threats and harassment experienced by a journalist in Kasongo, located 250 km from Kindu, capital of the province of Maniema in eastern DR Congo, at the hands of the province's authorities. JED urges the authorities to put an end to these practices and assure that the media can continue to work freely and without fear for their safety.

According to information obtained by JED, Modeste Shabani, a journalist with Radio Sauti ya Mkaaji (Voice of the Farmer) based in Kasongo, was summoned and questioned for nearly two hours on 11 January 2010 by Banamuwere Sikira, territorial administrator of Kasongo.

This summons was preceded by several phone calls and anonymous messages with threats against Shabani following the broadcast on the evening of 10 January of the programme "Expression citoyenne" (Citizen expression).

During this open line call-in show, to which a number of political figures and members of civil society contributed, the participants put forward a negative assessment of the provincial government's actions. The following day, Shabani received a phone call from Banamuwere Sikira inviting the journalist to come to his office that afternoon. A few hours later, a provincial government employee called the journalist to warm him that a "conspiracy" was being mounted against him. Shortly thereafter, a Congolese national police officer whom he met on the street told Shabani the provincial authorities did not appreciate his programme's content.

Contacted by JED at the end of his interrogation at the territorial administration, Shabani confirmed the threats and said that he explained himself at length over the offending programme's contents and the remarks made by contributors. "The territorial administrator did not consider the programme's content to be defamatory so he let me leave, while telling me to pay attention next time since 'not all truths are good to speak about,'" he concluded.

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