Security services arrested Peter Tiani, managing director of “Le Vrai Journal” television news program, on November 7, 2018, at his show’s offices in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for broadcasting about Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala’s alleged involvement in corruption and money hoarding, his lawyer, Hervé Diakiese, told CPJ.
Tiani’s program is broadcast on privately owned Congolese television station Canal Kin and the Chinese state-owned CCTV, according to news reports. The same reports said Tiani was arrested after a complaint lodged against him with the public prosecutor by the prime minister. CPJ was not able to independently verify the complaint.
The allegations that the prime minister keeps hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash at his home were first reported by Scoop RDC, a privately owned online Congolese publication, Diakiese told CPJ. It reported that Tshibala’s son was allegedly responsible for the disappearance of US$400,000 from the prime minister’s home, which led Tiani to pose the question to his viewers as to why that much cash could be found in his home in the first place, according to local press freedom organization Journalist en Danger (JED).
As of late 2018, CPJ’s repeated calls to the office of Tshibala and Felix Kamanda Dibwe, his chief of staff, went unanswered.
Tiani was first questioned for three hours at his office before being taken to Kalamu Court, which also serves as a local police station, and then was transferred to Kinshasa’s Makala Central Prison on November 10, Diakiese told CPJ. Tiani faces criminal defamation charges, and was denied bail on November 14 and remanded in custody for 15 days, according to Diakiese. As of November 29, a date for his appeal of the bail ruling had not been set, Diakiese told CPJ.
On November 10, a group of local journalists marched to the offices of DRC’s attorney general, Flory Kabange Numbi, in Kinshasa to demand Tiani’s release.