Kinshasa – Dozens of rights groups have urged the Democratic Republic of Congo to release a Congolese journalist detained last week, after intelligence agents set free a US reporter arrested with him.
On July 13, the DRC’s intelligence service detained Joseph Kazadi and American journalist Stavros Nicolas Niarchos in the southeastern city of Lubumbashi in Katanga province.
Agents then held both men in the capital Kinshasa, a senior government official previously told AFP, explaining that the journalists had allegedly made unauthorised contact with armed groups.
Niarchos, a 33-year-old freelancer who writes for American magazines The Nation and The New Yorker, was released on Tuesday and has left the vast central African nation.
But Kazadi – who writes for a Lubumbashi newspaper and had been acting as a fixer for Niarchos – remains in detention.
On Thursday, the Katanga branch of the DRC’s national press union UNPC, urged an “unconditional release” for Kazadi.
“Human rights are the same for all people in the world,” the press union stated, comparing the American’s release to his Congolese colleague’s ongoing detention.
The head of the Africa office of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Arnaud Froger, called for his “immediate release”.
“The detention of this Congolese journalist is completely arbitrary and even tends towards harassment after the release of his American colleague,” he said in a statement in French.
The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also called for Kazadi’s release in a statement on Wednesday.
“Journalists in the DRC are far too often arrested and detained for their work. Authorities seem not to believe that journalism is not a crime,” CPJ’s Africa programme director Angela Quintal was quoted as saying.
Separately on Wednesday, 34 Congolese human rights organisations said in a joint statement that Kazadi had committed no offence and demanded his release.