Deutsche Welle Burundian correspondent Antedisteste Niragira has been released following his arrest last week on accusations of spying in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), said the German broadcaster.
Niragira was arrested by the Congolese intelligence agency on Wednesday while reporting in the Kavinvara camp, which houses Burundi refugees near its border with DRC.
Deutsche Welle spokesman Christop Jumpelt said on Tuesday that while Niragira was no longer in custody, he had not been allowed to return to his family and was being held in Burundi.
“After what he unjustly experienced in DRC, I do not understand why he is now detained by the Burundian police,” Jumpelt said in comments on Deutsche Welle website.
In an earlier statement demanding the reporter be released by the DRC, Jumpelt said: “The accusation that our correspondent is a spy is outrageous and baseless.”
The DRC ranks 154th out of 180 countries on Reporters Without Borders’ 2017 World Press Freedom Index.
According to the Kinhasa-based media watchdog, Journaliste en Danger (JED), there were at least 87 cases of “direct attacks against the press” in 2016 in the country. At least 69 violations have been recorded this year.
In October 2016, Burundian radio journalist Egide Mwemero was freed after spending nearly a year in detention without trial in the DRC.
Mwemero was arrested a few days after launching a radio station in the DRC after it was banned in Burundi. DRC government officials said it was “a threat to peace in Burundi”.
More than 400,000 Burundians have fled the country since it plunged into crisis two years ago after President Pierre Nkurunziza launched a bid for a third term in office.
At least 36,000 have sought refuge in the DRC, which has also experienced unrest in recent years.
The UN estimates at least 500 people have been killed in Burundi, though NGOs believe the death toll could be as many as 2,000.