Journalist imprisoned

New York, September 3, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply concerned by the continued detention of Guy Kasongo Kilembwe, editor-in-chief of the satirical newspaper Pot-Pourri based in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

National Police officers arrested Kilembwe on August 29. Local sources told CPJ that they believe Kilembwe was arrested on the orders of Pius Mwabilu, who is a member of Parliament, as well as the general manager of L’Avenir Group Radio-Television and publisher of the pro-government daily L’Avenir (The Future).

After arresting the journalist, officers took Kilembwe to a police station, where he was confronted by Mwabilu, who told the journalist, “You humiliated me in your newspaper, and now I am going to make you suffer,” according to the local press freedom organization Journaliste en Danger (JED). On August 22, Pot-Pourri published a front-page article alleging that Mwabilu had used funds earmarked for collective use by parliamentarians to launch his media company, L’Avenir Group.

On August 31, Kilembwe was transferred to Kinshasa’s Penitentiary and Reeducation Center. According to local sources, there are no formal charges against the journalist.

On the evening of August 31, three days after JED’s initial press release about Kilembwe, Mwabilu called Tshivis Tshivuadi, JED’s secretary-general, and told him that JED had humiliated him, and that he would “do everything possible to make sure you are silenced,” Tshivuadi told CPJ. The following day, L’Avenir published an editorial accusing JED of working for opposition parties, according to JED. Tshivuadi told CPJ that when JED sent the newspaper a formal response, L’Avenir refused to publish it.