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ANR agents storm radio station, arrest programme guests

(JED/IFEX) - On 26 February 2010, just before noon, three National Intelligence Agency (Agence nationale des renseignements, ANR) agents stormed the studios of Radio Liberté, a privately-owned radio station based in Kisangani, capital of Oriental province in north-eastern DR Congo.

The agents brought to a halt "Académie Plus", a daily political debate programme that was on that day focused on the city's rejection of the confidence motion against the governor of Oriental province.

Two of the show's participants, including the local leader of the opposition party Congolese Liberation Movement (Mouvement pour la libération du Congo, MLC), Simon Bokongo, and former vice-governor Abibu Sakapela were arrested, while recordings of the show were confiscated. The show's third guest, Augustin Osumaka, local leader of the governing party, People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (Parti du peuple pour la reconstruction et la démocratie, PPRD), was not taken in.

According to sources at Radio Liberté, the "Académie Plus" programme is accused of "inciting Kisangani's population to sabotage provincial institutions."

One of the ANR agents involved in the raid stated that "the issue is that this programme insulted the governor of the province. We cannot tolerate that." Contacted by JED, the host of the show and programming director at Radio Liberté, Franck Wasanga, denied that anyone "was insulted or provoked during the programme. We were very surprised by the raid; the ANR agents seized my notes and took away two of my guests."

The governor's chief of staff told JED that the the governor's office did not order the raid on Radio Liberté's offices.

JED strongly condemned the ANR raid. "Even in the unlikely event that the radio station committed a press offence during the airing of the 'Académie Plus' programme, there is no legal provision authorising this raid. This is a clear example of abuse of power by the ANR," JED stated.

In its 2009 press freedom report, JED noted that the ANR has emerged as the most repressive official agency, responsible for 26 of the 75 attacks on the press over the course of the year. The majority of attacks attributed to the ANR took place outside the capital.

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