The Association of International Press Correspondents (ACPI) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reported “his serious concerns”, Tuesday October 25, after the disappearance since the evening before of one of its members, correspondent of the New York Times.
Congolese journalist Steve Wembi was targeted by “a roundup [menée] by agents presented as belonging to the National Intelligence Agency [ANR] », said the ACPI in a press release. He “was worried in a hotel [du centre de Kinshasa], but remains untraceable so far », adds the association. A reporter also told AFP, on condition of anonymity, that he saw Steve Wembi being picked up by these men in front of this hotel in a white Jeep.
“He was never arrested by the services, in any case, I took my phone since yesterday to check”said Tuesday evening on official television (RTNC) the Congolese Minister of Communication and government spokesman, Patrick Muyaya, referring on the other hand to a man “underground”, without further details.
Requested by AFP, the New York Times expressed his concern. “We are concerned by reports that Congolese journalist Steve Wembi has been arrested. Mr. Wembi is a well-known freelance journalist, who has worked for media including the New York Times, even if he is not currently on a mission for the Times »said Nicole Taylor, a spokeswoman for the newspaper.
The ACPI adds that another of its members, the journalist Pascal Mulegwa, correspondent in Kinshasa for Radio France internationale (RFI), “came to inquire about the situation of his colleague, was brutally arrested in front of the hotel and stripped of his personal belongings”. His belongings were returned to him “after more than two hours of detention in inhuman conditions on ANR premises”the statement added. “However, a large sum was taken from him by ANR agents”continues the ACPI.
The association “condemns these abusive acts against its members and demands that the competent authorities carry out appropriate investigations in order to locate” Steve Webbi. In her press release, she says to stay “concerned by threats and other pressure exerted on international press correspondents for months”.
The situation is tense in the east of the DRC, plagued by violence by armed groups for almost thirty years and where the resurgence of the rebellion of the Mouvement du 23-Mars (M23) has caused renewed tension with neighboring Rwanda. . Kinshasa accuses Kigali of supporting this rebellion, which Kigali denies.
In his weekly briefing on Monday, Patrick Muyaya called on the press to “hold the media front” and to “avoid playing the enemy’s game”. “We value freedom of the press”, he said on Tuesday on the RTNC. But “there is also reason to know that we are in a state of war, that part of the territory is occupied and that information related to the progress of military information requires professional coverage”he insisted.
The DRC occupies the 125e place (out of 180) in the latest world ranking of press freedom established by the organization for the defense of journalists Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
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