Joseph Ebondo and Sylvain Kiomba
Joseph Ebondo (left) and Sylvain Kiomba, journalists at radio station Shilo FM, were detained on January 5, 2023, for 48 hours by Congolese authorities in the city of Lubao. (Photos: Adolphe Kitenge)

DRC authorities detain 2 journalists for 48 hours over reporting on alleged secret jails

On January 5, 2023, Congolese authorities detained Sylvain Kiomba, editor-in-chief of the privately owned radio station Shilo FM, and Joseph Ebondo, a reporter at the station, in the city of Lubao in the country’s south-central Lomami province, according to Ebondo, who spoke to CPJ by phone, and a report by the local press freedom organization Observatory of Press Freedom in Africa (OLPA).

Yangoba Katanga Yangozo, head of the DRC’s National Intelligence Agency (ANR), invited Kiomba for questioning on January 5 and detained him when he appeared at Yangoba’s office in Lubao, according to those sources. Ebondo told CPJ that he was detained later on January 5, when he went to Yangoba’s office to seek information about Kiomba’s status.

Both journalists were released unconditionally on January 7, according to Ebondo and that report.

According to a report by the U.N.-sponsored broadcaster Radio Okapi and a letter condemning the arrests by the local chapter of the National Union of the Congolese Press, ANR agents accused Kiomba and Ebondo of defamation and questioned them about a January 4 Shilo FM broadcast of a statement by a local civil society leader, who alleged that the ANR operated secret illegal holding cells in Lubao.

CPJ called and messaged Lomami Governor Nathan Ilunga and his deputy, Jean-Claude Lubamba, but did not receive any response. CPJ called Yangoba, but the call did not connect.