Radio Hosanna employees released, station still shuttered

New York, August 9, 2004—
Seven employees of an evangelical radio station that was shuttered last week were freed on Saturday, August 7, without charge. The station, Radio Hosanna, in the southern Democratic Republic of Congo city of Lubumbashi, remains closed.

The station has been shut down since August 4, when national intelligence agents and police raided the offices, confiscated the station’s equipment, including the transmitter, and arrested seven station employees: journalists Roger Nsenda, Clement Kabwe, Costa Kazadi, and Didier Lofoli; two technicians, Maturin Tshisimpa and Mimi Kajinga; and security guard Emmanuel Lukumu.

The closure and arrests stemmed from the broadcast of a sermon by Albert Lukusa, pastor of the Nouvelle Cité de David (New City of David) church, which owns Radio Hosanna. During his sermon, Lukusa criticized the government, alleging that it is corrupt and has mismanaged the country’s economy, according to the local press freedom organization Journaliste en Danger (JED).

The pastor also pointed to the presence of what he termed “foreigners” in the government. Lukusa said the country was “run by Rwandans and Senegalese,” and that authorities were “incapable of responding to the basic needs of the population,” according to JED.

Lukusa, who was arrested by members of the National Intelligence Agency (known by its French acronym, ANR) on August 3, remains in detention at ANR facilities in Lubumbashi. The ANR has accused Lukusa of insulting the head of state and “inciting people to revolt against national authorities,” CPJ sources said. The pastor has not been formally charged, but ANR agents have questioned him about his criticisms of the government, according to JED President D. M’baya Tshimanga.

Intelligence agents and police raided Radio Hosanna after journalists at the station announced Lukusa’s detention on-air, rebroadcast the sermon, and invited listeners to call in to express their opinions, according to local sources.

For more information, see CPJ’s August 6 alert.