South Sudanese journalist Jackson Ochaya went missing on September 1, 2020, and was later revealed to be detained without charge by the country’s National Security Service. His arrest followed the publication of a report he wrote that included commentary from an opposition militant group.
In an August 25 report for No. 1 Citizen, Ochaya included a comment from a spokesperson of the National Salvation Front, a militant group fighting South Sudan’s government, according to media reports and an individual with knowledge of the arrest, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. The report was titled, “Army Accuse NAS of illegal Gold Mining, NAS denies,” according to a copy of the paper’s front page reviewed by CPJ.
On August 31, authorities summoned Ochaya and No. 1 Citizen’s management over that report, and released them the same day, according to those reports. Ochaya went missing the following day after receiving a call to meet his uncle, and then later that week was confirmed to be held at the National Security Service headquarters, according to media reports published at the time.
On September 9, No.1 Citizen published a statement asserting that Ochaya was not arrested for a “journalistic offense,” but in connection with a “personal matter,” according to a copy of the statement published in local news reports.
One individual who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal, speculated that they authorities had “intimidated the newspaper” into making that statement.
Ochaya remains at the National Security Service headquarters, and no charges have been filed in his case and no court dates set as of late 2020, according to two people with knowledge of his case who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
CPJ called Elijah Alier, the chairperson of South Sudan’s media authority, and Sapana Abuyi, the authority’s director general for information and media compliance, but the calls did not go through. CPJ also called Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth for comment, but the call did not connect.