American journalist Stavros Nicolas Niarchos and Congolese journalist Joseph Kazadi Kamuanga were arrested and detained by the DRC’s intelligence services on Wednesday, 13 July for allegedly making contacts with armed groups. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the arrests.
According to local media reports, Niarchos, who works for The Nation and New York magazines and Kamuanga, who worked as his fixer, were arrested in the south-eastern city of Lubumbashi by the Agence Nationale de Renseignements (ANR) and taken to the capital, Kinshasa. Niarchos was questioned “about his close links with the armed groups, particularly Bakata Katanga”.
Niarchos had travelled to the DRC to report on nature conservation, the economy and culture. Print journalist Joseph Kazadi Kamuanga is well known for his reports on the mining sector.
Local media reports quoted a government official who said Nairchos “made movements that were never previously reported to the authorities”. The government, he said must be very vigilant after the murder of two United Nations experts in 2017.
IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said that there is no rationale behind the arrests of the two journalists, who were simply doing their work. “Denying them access or restricting their contact with members of an armed group is a serious deterrent to freedom of expression and a calculated attempt to deny the citizens of Congo their right to know about the activities of the militia groups”.
The IFJ calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the two journalists without any further delay and warns the government against any attempt to silence journalists.