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Journalist in DRC detained, accused of planning to "sabotage" presidential visit

Presidential guardsmen stand under the stained campaign poster of Congolese President Joseph Kabila, 26 November 2011.
Presidential guardsmen stand under the stained campaign poster of Congolese President Joseph Kabila, 26 November 2011.

AP Photo/Jerome Delay

Journalist in Danger (JED) condemns the 72-hour detention of a journalist at the Rutshuru central prison, located 70 Km from Goma, the capital of North Kivu, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

According to information obtained by JED, Roger Sebyera, a correspondent for Walikale-Radio, was arrested on 30 November 2013 at around 9:00am by government intelligence officials from l'Agence Nationale des Renseignments (ANR). The officials took him directly to prison, where he remains in detention. Sebyera was accused of acting suspiciously while he reported on President Joseph Kabila's arrival to Rutshuru.

On 29 November, people gathered at a stadium in Rutshuru, where the president was expected to arrive for a meeting. Sebyera was at the stadium, and was getting in touch with his radio station in order to ask for cell phone credit, so that he could adequately carry out his report. Two ANR officials sat next to Sebyera, and suspected that he was a malicious spy who wanted to sabotage the president's arrival to Rutshuru. The officials proceeded to confiscate the journalist's cell phone and money. Having remembered what the agents looked like, Sebyera went to the ANR headquarters in Rutshuru on 30 November, to reclaim his belongings.

"It was in ANR's office that Roger was arrested, then taken to the Rutshuru central prison," Mr. Musa Bula Sima, Editor-in-Chief of Walikale-Radio told JED. Sima also expressed concern over the unjustified arrest of Sebyera, who was doing his job by covering the arrival of the president.

Contacted by JED, Mrs. Rubuma, Rutshuru's assistant administrator, said she did not have any information about the journalist's arrest.

JED strongly condemns this obstacle Sebyera's work and demands his immediate and unconditional release.

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