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Cablegate: Press Freedom Quarterly: July-September 2008

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DE RUEHKI #1010/01 3191655
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141655Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8777
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 001010

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KDEM CG
SUBJECT: PRESS FREEDOM QUARTERLY: JULY-SEPTEMBER 2008

REF: KINSHASA 767

1. (SBU) Summary: Congolese security forces continue to harass
journalists. Intelligence agents arrested a journalist in Kindu,
Maniema for allowing on-air criticism of local authorities. An
anonymous official threatened a journalist in Kananga, Kasai
Occidental for criticizing the state of teacher salaries. Media
Minister Emile Bongeli directed a raid against Moliere TV station in
Kinshasa for failing to pay certain fees. A Kinshasa court
acquitted a Global TV technician of inciting rebellion in connection
with the broadcast of an interview of BDK spiritual leader Ne Mwanda
Nsemi. Kinshasa authorities have issued arrest warrants for two
other Global TV employees for their participation in the interview.
The weakness and lack of independence of the security forces makes
them susceptible to manipulation. End summary.

Detained by authorities
-----------------------

2. (SBU) On July 15, Reporters Without Borders and Journaliste en
Danger (JED) reported that the National Intelligence Agency (ANR)
released Mila Dipenge, a broadcaster for the Tele Kindu Maniema
(TKM) TV station in Kindu, Maniema Province on July 11. ANR agents
arrested Dipenge on July 10 and held him for 24 hours for allowing
Kindu residents to express their views. Local sources said that
Governor Lingo ordered the arrest because Dipenge allowed criticism
of the local authorities to be broadcast. One particular comment
reportedly especially upset the governor: "we like Kabila, but we no
longer want the people he has installed here." JED told us on
October 28 that Dipenge is currently free and continues to work at
the TKM TV station.

A threat and intimidation
-------------------------

3. (SBU) According to JED, Jeff Kande, a broadcast journalist with
Radio-Television Amazone (RTA), a privately-owned station based in
Kananga, Kasai Occidental Province, received an anonymous phone call
threatening and intimidating him. The threat occurred during the
August 20 broadcast of an RTA program entitled "Why not talk about
it?" During the program, Kande reportedly predicted the 2008 school
year would not begin on time, if teachers' salary demands were not
met. While the program was still on the air, Kande received a phone
call from an unknown individual saying, "if the start of the school
year is boycotted on September 1, it's you who will take
responsibility for the teachers; we know where you live and you will
pay for it dearly." After the program, Kande went into temporary
hiding. On October 28, JED confirmed to us that Kande was free and
working at RTA.

4. (SBU) On September 25, local police raided the Moliere TV
station in Kinshasa, according to JED. The policemen, allegedly
under orders from Media Minister Emile Bongeli, looted the mixing
console, a computer, a power generator, four TV sets, 2 video
cameras, administrative files and carpets. They also detained two
technicians, GB Bampale and Raidin Mpoyi, and threatened them with
death before releasing them an hour later. According to JED, the
cause of the raid was the bad relationship between Leon Nemba Lemba,
the owner of the station, and Bongeli following Bongeli's threat to
shut the station down because it had not submitted certain
administrative documents and paid certain fees. Nemba Lemba said
that Bongeli threatened him by saying, "as long as I am minister,
your channel will not broadcast. I will crush you." JED told us
that Nemba Lemba continues to receive threats and was not able to
broadcast.

Update
------

5. (SBU) Global TV technician Daudet Lukombo, arrested on September
12 during a police raid on the station (reftel), was released from
Kinshasa's CPRK prison on October 28. The police originally charged
Lukombo with inciting rebellion and held him for 48 hours in the
police detention center known as Kin Maziere, before transferring
him to a holding cell at the public prosecutor's office in
Kinshasa/Gombe on September 14. On September 19, Lukombo appeared
before a judge in the CPRK's council chambers for the confirmation
of charges.

6. (SBU) The Kinshasa/Gombe Criminal Court acquitted Lukombo on
October 28 on the grounds that "incitement to rebellion" is not
legally punishable. At the same time, authorities issued arrest
warrants for Global TV journalist Neve Natasha Makengele and
cameraman Fanfan Koko for their participation in the September 12
interview of Bundu Dia Kongo (BDK) spiritual leader Ne Mwanda Nsemi.
Authorities have charged the pair with inciting rebellion. In

KINSHASA 00001010 002 OF 002


addition, they could also face charges of gravely offending the DRC
Head of State. JED told us that Koko and Makengele are still in
hiding. Despite the recent trouble, JED reports that the station
resumed broadcasting September 20.

7. (SBU) Comment: Some Congolese politicians continue to harass and
intimidate journalists for reporting criticisms. These officials
either actively encourage or, at the least, acquiesce when security
forces carry out operations against disfavored journalists. Respect
for freedom of speech and freedom of the press has yet to firmly
take hold in the DRC. The weakness and lack of independence of the
security forces makes them susceptible to manipulation. End
comment.

BROCK

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