Human rights groups call for release of Congolese journalist for terrorism charges
KINSHASA, Sept. 24 (Reuters) – Human rights groups on Friday called on the military authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to release a journalist arrested on terrorism charges for possessing a video showing the murder of two observers UN sanctions in 2017.
Sosthene Kambidi, who works for the Congolese news site Actualite.cd and sometimes for international news agencies, was arrested by the army prosecutor in a hotel in Kinshasa on Monday evening, he said in a report. WhatsApp message to a journalist from Radio France Internationale (RFI), which was shared with Reuters.
Kambidi contributed to an RFI and Reuters investigation in December 2017 that found state security agents helped plan a trip by the two UN observers to investigate reports of atrocities during an armed conflict in a rural part of the Kasai region in Congo.
Kambidi, who also accompanied journalists from Reuters and RFI on a reporting trip in March 2017 which revealed the existence of several mass graves in Kasai, is being prosecuted by the army for “criminal association, rebellion and terrorism His lawyer Gode Kabongo told Reuters by telephone. .
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have all called for Kambidi’s release.
Being denied access to his family or a lawyer for 36 hours after his arrest, Kambidi was questioned about how he acquired footage of the 2017 murder, said Jean-Mobert Senga, researcher at Amnesty International.
“Until proven guilty, Kambidi is a journalist who has only done his job and should not be forced to reveal his sources,” Senga told Reuters.
A government spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Kambidi’s arrest. The military could not be reached for comment.
During the UN mission in 2017, the two experts, Zaida Catalan, a Swede, and Michael Sharp, an American, were stopped along the road by armed men, marched in a field and executed.
The Congolese authorities initially accused a militia, arrested around 20 suspected fighters and charged them with involvement in the killings. The government later said it could not rule out the possibility that state agents were involved.
However, they denied suggestions by rights groups that senior government and security officials may have been involved in the killings.
Reporting by Hereward Holland Editing by Aaron Ross and Gareth Jones
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