Kinshasa (AFP) - The International Press Correspondents’ Association in the Democratic Republic of Congo Tuesday expressed its “deep concern” over the arrest of one of its members, who has been missing since.
Congolese journalist Steve Wembi, a contributor to the New York Times, was targeted by “a raid (conducted) by agents allegedly belonging to the National Intelligence Agency” on Monday evening in the capital Kinshasa, the association said in a statement.
He “was investigated at a hotel in the city centre, but has been missing ever since,” the association added.
A reporter told AFP on the condition of anonymity that he saw Wembi being taken away from the hotel in a white jeep by the men who arrested him.
There was no immediate indication as to the possible reason for the journalist’s arrest.
The association added that another of its members, journalist Pascal Mulegwa, a correspondent for Radio France Internationale, “who came to inquire about the situation of his colleague,” was brutally arrested in front of the hotel and stripped of his personal belongings.
His belongings were returned to him “after more than two hours of detention in inhumane conditions on the premises of the National Intelligence Agency,” the statement added.
“A large sum of money was however taken from him by agents of the NIA.”
The association said it “condemns these abusive acts against its members and demands that the competent authorities carry out appropriate investigations in order to locate” Wembi.
It said it remains “concerned about threats and other pressure” on international press correspondents over the past months.
The situation remains tense in eastern DRC, which has been plagued by violence from armed groups for nearly 30 years and where the resurgence of the M23 rebel group has caused renewed tension with neighbouring Rwanda.
Kinshasa accuses Kigali of supporting this rebellion, which Kigali denies.
In his weekly briefing on Monday, the Minister of Communication and government spokesman, Patrick Muyaya, called on the press to “hold the media front” and “avoid playing into the hands of the enemy”.