Nairobi, December 7, 2016–South Sudanese authorities should immediately reverse the expulsion of U.S. journalist Justin Lynch, a freelancer for The Associated Press, and should cease interfering with journalists’ ability to work freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Security officers yesterday arrested the journalist and put him on a flight to Uganda, the AP reported.
“The expulsion of Justin Lynch is yet another illustration of how much President Salva Kiir’s government fears independent media coverage,” said Murithi Mutiga, CPJ’s East Africa representative. “South Sudan needs independent journalism now more than ever. The government should reverse this decision and allow journalists to do their job without harassment.”
Lynch wrote on Twitter that the officers offered no official explanation for their action.
“Yesterday I was arrested and deported by members of South Sudan’s National Security Service. The officers did not officially present me with a reason for my arrest and deportation, but repeatedly said that my reporting was too critical of the government. This is a violation of press freedom,” the journalist wrote on Twitter.
South Sudan’s Director-General of Information Paul Jacob Kumbo did not immediately return CPJ’s calls requesting comment on the decision.
In one recent article, Lynch reported a warning from U.N. Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng that fighting between supporters of President Kiir and Riek Machar, who was ousted as vice president in August, presented a “potential for genocide.”
In the last year, South Sudanese authorities have shuttered media outlets and have beaten, threatened, and arrested journalists, CPJ research shows.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Paragraph one of this text has been corrected to clarify that Lynch is a freelance journalist.