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JED warns of grave threats to Radio Okapi journalist's safety

(JED/IFEX) - Kinshasa, 8 May 2012 - Journaliste en Danger (JED) has expressed grave concern following North-Kivu Governor Julien Paluku's threats targeting Gisèle Kaj Kaung, a journalist with the Goma-based station Radio Okapi. JED reminds North-Kivu political and military officials that they will be held responsible should the journalist be harmed in any way.

According to JED's sources, on 2 May 2012 Governor Paluku invited Alexandre Essome, head of public information and spokesperson for the UN Stabilisation Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) to his Goma residence, where he chastised the UN-backed radio station for its coverage of recent clashes between Congolese troops and mutinous soldiers in North and South-Kivu provinces. The governor singled out Gisèle Kaj, accusing her of bias in a recent news report.

Gisèle Kaj told JED that her report was based on several credible sources. "This is the second time that Julien Paluku has accused me of fraternising with the rebels. In 2008, the governor accused me of being one of former rebel leader Laurent Nkunda's escorts. Even now he accuses me of having a relationship with a rebel. Mr. Paluku is undermining my reputation and placing my physical safety at risk," she added.

JED condemn the slanderous accusations and threats against Kaj. In the context of a province riddled with violence, the organisation is worried that the accusations against her amount to a call for her execution.

Please note this is an abridged translation.

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