Johnny Kasongo, editor-in-chief of the Catholic station Radio Télévision Véritas (RTV), was arrested on November 29, 2017, along with three of his colleagues, the station director Norbert Mervilde, told CPJ.
Congolese authorities arrested Kasongo, along with Jean Doudou Ndumba, Musiko Kisiesia, and Ephraïm Mbayo, at RTV’s studio in in Kabinda, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s south central Lomami province, as they were transmitting a live broadcast of provincial assembly proceedings, according to Congolese press freedom organization Journaliste En Danger (JED).
The four journalists were beaten and transported by government jeep to a holding cell at the local office of the national intelligence service (ANR), according to JED. As of December 1, 2017, the journalists were not charged and Ndumba had been released, according to Mervilde.
Patrick Baluba, president of the provincial assembly, told CPJ that the Lomami provincial governor, Patrice Kamanda Tshibangu Muteba, who had been summoned to appear before the provincial assembly, had ordered the journalists’ arrests.
“It is a clear abuse of power,” Baluba told CPJ, in reference to the governor’s actions. “I called the ANR yesterday [November 30, 2017], and they told me they will release them [the journalists] after they have verified certain information.”
RTV had been granted special accreditation to cover the provincial assembly session and was provided the necessary equipment for the coverage, Mervilde told CPJ.
According to Mervilde, authorities did not present a warrant for the four journalists’ arrest. The journalists had not been interrogated in custody, he said.
CPJ made repeated telephone calls to the ANR, Kamanda, and Vice-Governor Kazadi Gabriel, which rang unanswered or did not go through.