Authorities in DRC force station off the air

Security forces arrived at the offices of Radio Télévision Autonome du Sud Kasaï (RTAS), in the south central town of Miabi, on August 15, 2012, and forced the station off the air, according to local press freedom group Journaliste en Danger (JED). The agents also confiscated the station’s transmitter, JED said.

Placide Lufuluabo, news director of the station, told CPJ that when security forces came to the station, they already had the owner of the station, Fortunat Kasongo, in custody. Kasongo was one of five people that local authorities had arrested the day before on suspicion of being linked to renegade army mutineer, Col. John Tshibangu, U.N.-backed station Radio Okapi reported. Tshibangu had defected from the Congolese army and started an armed insurrection seeking to overthrow President Joseph Kabila, according to news reports.

Lufuluabo told CPJ that Kasongo had not participated in any of the program’s stations and that RTAS had not aired any political programs nor conducted any interviews with Tshibangu. Local journalists believed the attack on RTAS was a consequence of Kasongo’s arrest.

The station is still off the air, and Kasongo is still in custody, according to news reports and local journalists.