In DRC, journalist jailed for not airing politician’s interview

New York, August 7, 2007—Intelligence agents in central DRC have jailed a reporter for failing to air an interview with a local politician, according to news reports and local journalists.

Manda Mutombo of Radiotélévision Nationale Congolaise was arrested Friday by Congo’s National Intelligence Agency in the diamond-rich city of Kananga, 674 miles (1,085 km) southeast of the capital, Kinshasa, according to news reports and local journalists.

“It is outrageous that a reporter should be jailed for failing to air an interview. He should be released now,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “If failing to air an interview was a crime, half the profession would be in jail.”

ANR agents arrested the journalist after a complaint was filed by Sylvain Mwamba, an opposition member of Western Kasaï’s Provincial Assembly. Mutombo and three other local journalists interviewed Mwamba on Thursday, said Ngindu Mulamba, the director of Radiotélévision in Kananga.

Mwamba’s interview never aired at Radiotélévision, because he had not been assigned the story. One of the journalists who participated in the interview worked for Radio Channel Media Broadcasting, which did air the piece.

The politician accused Mutombo of fraud. An editor from Radio Channel acknowledged that the journalists had accepted the equivalent of a few dollars each for transportation.

Mutombo is the sixth journalist imprisoned in DRC this year in connection with his work, according to CPJ research.

Last month, CPJ named the DRC one of the world’s worst backsliders on press freedom.