20 September 2017

Congo-Kinshasa: Editor Languishes in Prison Without Trial

Kinshasa — MEDIA groups are demanding the release of a Congolese editor jailed since January for publishing a statement by a former rebel leader. Security services arrested Ghys Fortuné Dombé Bemba in the capital Brazzaville. Public Prosecutor, André Oko Ngakala, charged the editor of "complicity in undermining state security" in connection with the privately-owned Talassa newspaper's publication of a statement by an ex-rebel leader, Frédéric Bintsamou, also known as Pastor Ntumi. Ntumi is a protestant clergyman who led The Ninjas rebel group during a civil war two decades ago. This is not the first time Congolese authorities have targeted Bemba and Talassa. Bemba was arrested in 2015 in connection with an article critical of President Denis Sassou Nguesso's administration. Talassa was suspended in 2007 and 2013. Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists have written to Nguesso demanding the release of the editor. The press freedom advocacy organizations said Bemba's detention for more than eight months without trial was inhumane and set a chilling message to the media that the government would not respect the fundamental right of journalists. "We urge you to use your office to ensure that Ghys Fortuné Dombé Bemba is immediately freed and all investigations against him dropped." Séraphin Ondele, cabinet director of the minister of the interior, previously said the government was unaware of Bemba's case. -


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