The Association of International Press Correspondents (ACPI) in DR Congo expressed on 25 October “its serious concerns” after the disappearance since the evening before of one of its members, the Congolese journalist Steve Wembi, correspondent in particular from New York Times (NYT). Targeted by “a roundup [menée] by agents presented as belonging to the National Intelligence Agency (ANR)”, indicates the ACPI in a press release, he “was worried in a hotel [du centre de Kinshasa]most rest not found so far”.
#RDCONGO : @acpi_rdc expresses its serious concerns after a raid by agents of the National Intelligence Agency (ANR) on Monday, targeting one of its members, in this case @wembi_steveNew York Times contributor. pic.twitter.com/9QAFKmlPhh
— ACPI_RDC (@acpi_rdc) October 25, 2022
“He was never arrested by the services, in any case, I took my phone since yesterday to check”, declared the same evening on official television (RTNC) the Congolese Minister of Communication and spokesperson of the government, Patrick Muyaya, evoking on the other hand a man “in hiding” without further details.
DRC: “Congolese journalists are not criminals”
« [C’est] a reputable freelance journalist who has worked for media including the New York Timeseven if he is not currently on a mission for the Times“said Nicole Taylor, a spokeswoman for the newspaper.
Another journalist arrested and brutalized
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 dispossessed of his personal belongings”. His belongings were returned to him “after more than two hours of detention in inhuman conditions in the premises of ANR,” 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 Wembi. In her press release, she said she remained “concerned by threats and other pressure exerted on international press correspondents for months”.
Eastern DRC: new clashes between the army and the M23
In his weekly briefing on October 24, Patrick Muyaya had called on the press to “hold the media front” and to “avoid playing the enemy’s game”, alluding to the resurgence of the M23 rebellion in eastern country. “We value freedom of the press,” he told RTNC on Tuesday. “It is also necessary 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”, does he have insisted.