New York, May 11, 2012–Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo must immediately release two journalists who have been detained without charge since Wednesday over their story criticizing a government official, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Plainclothes police arrested Sébastien Mulamba, an editor with the private monthly Kisangani News, and Mbuyi Mukadi, the paper’s managing editor, in a restaurant in Kisangani, the capital of Oriental Province, according to press freedom group Journaliste en Danger. Mulamba told CPJ that officers questioned them for an hour over their sources for an April 15 article alleging Alphonse Awenze, a member of the Congolese National Assembly under President Joseph Kabila’s ruling party, was involved in a sex scandal.
Awenze did not publicly dispute the allegations but filed a complaint accusing the newspaper of “offending his personality,” Mulamba told CPJ. The journalist said he and Mukadi had gone to the restaurant to meet an aide of Awenze, who said he wanted to buy advertising in the paper.
“We condemn the unjustified detention of Sébastien Mulamba and Mbuyi Mukadi, an act of intimidation that should be halted immediately,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “Authorities should not be doing the personal bidding of an assemblyman who doesn’t like unflattering news coverage.”
Kisangani News has been persecuted for its critical reporting in the past. Earlier this year, the newspaper was suspended for two months for publishing stories critical of former provincial governor Médard Asenga, Journaliste en Danger reported.