DRC - Journalist held by intelligence agency released after four months

Reporters Without Borders and its partner organization in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Journalist in Danger (JED), welcome Pierre-Sosthène Kambidi’s release on 15 December after four months in detention and call for the immediate release of two other journalists from the central province of Kasaï Occidental, John Mpoyi and Fortunat Kasongo, also held by the National Intelligence Agency in Kinshasa.

Read the JED press release:

Kinshasa: Journalist freed after 106 days in detention, two others held in appalling conditions

Journalist Pierre Sosthène Kambidi of Radio Télévision Chrétienne (RTC), a religious TV station based in Kananga, capital of the central province of Kasaï Occidental, was released at around 2 p.m. on 15 December after being held for four months without trial at a detention centre operated by the National Intelligence Agency (ANR) in Kinshasa.

Kambidi told JED that, when arrested, he was subjected to repeated interrogation about his contacts with the UDPS, the main opposition party, and his links with John Tshibangu, an army colonel who deserted, and with Roger Lumbala, an opposition parliamentarian accused by the government of assisting Rwanda’s attempts to Balkanize the DRC.

“The judicial police investigator wanted to know the reasons why I broadcast information by Col. John Tshibangu’s desertion from the armed forces,” Kambidi said. “Before my release, the police investigator made it clear to me that they had no case against me and that no charges had been prepared.”

Two other journalists who were arrested by the security services in the same investigation continue to be held at the ANR detention centre. They are John Mpoyi of Radio Lisanga Télévision (RLTV) and Fortunat Kasongo of Radio Télévision Autonome du sud-Kasaï (RTAS). Both of these stations are based in Kasaï Oriental.

Asked about conditions in the ANR detention centre, Kambidi said he was held in a cell with 19 other people.

“I was not allowed any visit by family members or lawyers,” he said. “The ANR gave us a few beans and two spoonfuls of rice cooked with bicarbonate. Fortunat Kasongo and John Mpoyi are still being held in a small squalid cell with more than 10 people and they are not allowed any visits either.”