Congolese authorities question radio journalist over broadcast on new tax

August 29, 2017 4:17 PM ET

National intelligence services and police issued summonses to Israel Ntumba, a reporter for the Congolese broadcaster, Kasai Horizontal Radio et Television (KHRT), over an August 5, 2017 broadcast on a new motorcycle tax in Kananga, a city in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the station's program director, Honi Tshibola and Ntumba, told CPJ.

Ntumba told CPJ that when he responded to the national intelligence agency summons on August 15, 2017, agents detained him for four hours and questioned him about broadcasting "sensitive information." The following day, Kananga police summoned him over the same report, Ntumba said.

"When I asked [the police] who had filed a complaint against me, the police told me that it was the Kananga mayor [Jean Mwamba]," Ntumba told CPJ.

Mwamba told CPJ he denied any involvement in either summonses. Kananga police deputy Major Zeus Nzengu told CPJ that he did not want to comment on Ntumba's case.

Ntumba told CPJ that since being questioned, he has received several threatening phones calls and text messages from unidentified callers, warning him to leave the city.

The summonses for KHRT were issued the same month that Kananga police raided the offices of Radio Télévision Chrétienne, a community station based in the same city. Police seized equipment from the station on August 5, 2017, about an hour after its broadcast on the motorcycle tax, Sosphète Kambidi, the station's director, told CPJ at the time.

As of August 29, 2017, the equipment had not been returned, Kamdibi told CPJ. Jose Mbuyi, the Radio Télévision Chrétienne journalist who reported on the tax, told CPJ that he received death threats from unidentified callers after the raid.

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