Bu­rundi po­lice ar­rest US re­porter, lo­cal jour­nal­ist

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

NAIROBI: Bu­rundi po­lice said yes­ter­day they had briefly ar­rested an Amer­i­can free­lance jour­nal­ist along with a lo­cal re­porter work­ing with her, who was still be­ing held. Po­lice spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said on his Twit­ter time­line that jour­nal­ist Ju­lia Steers and Gil­das Yi­hundim­pundu were ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of “try­ing to de­stroy ev­i­dence of crimes by in­sur­gents.” Steers, who had of­fi­cial ac­cred­i­ta­tion, was re­leased, but her col­league was still be­ing in­ter­ro­gated and her driver de­tained.

“Many thanks for con­cerns-I’m safe but re­main ex­tremely con­cerned for my Bu­run­dian col­league Gil­das Yi­hundim­pundu and our driver Pas­cal,” Steers tweeted after her re­lease. The pair are the lat­est in a long line of jour­nal­ists ar­rested by Bu­rundi au­thor­i­ties in a crack­down on the me­dia since a cri­sis prompted by Pres­i­dent Pierre Nku­run­z­iza’s dis­puted run for a third term in of­fice in April 2015.

Marked by as­sas­si­na­tions on both sides, at­tacks against the po­lice and sum­mary ex­e­cu­tions, the vi­o­lence has left more than 500 peo­ple dead and forced more than 270,000 Bu­run­di­ans to flee the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to the UN. Bu­rundi’s gov­ern­ment has si­lenced in­de­pen­dent jour­nal­ists at home and reg­u­larly lashes out at the in­ter­na­tional me­dia, ac­cus­ing the press of be­ing part of a “con­spir­acy” to over­throw it.

The US-based Com­mit­tee to Pro­tect Jour­nal­ists (CPJ) es­ti­mates 100 jour­nal­ists have been forced into ex­ile since the vi­o­lence erupted. The CPJ this week urged Bu­rundi’s na­tional in­tel­li­gence ser­vice to re­lease ra­dio jour­nal­ist Sal­vador Nahi­mana, de­tained since Oc­to­ber 2. An­other jour­nal­ist, Jean Bi­gi­r­i­mana, of the in­de­pen­dent Iwacu news­pa­per, has been miss­ing since July 22. — AFP

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