JUBA, January 6th 2023 (Sudans Post) – South Sudan government security agency, the National Security Service (NSS) has detained at least six journalists working for the state-own South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC) over a viral video in which President Salva Kiir Mayardit was seen in an uncomfortable situation during launch of the Juba-Terekeka highway last month.
Kiir in the video was seen wetting on himself as the country’s national anthem was being played during the function. Following the release of the video, a SSBC journalist told Sudans Post that National Security Service officers attached to the office of the president were searching journalists phones to see who was behind the leaking out of the clip.
Speaking to Sudans Post this afternoon, the same journalist said that six of his colleagues working at the SSBC were arrested earlier this week and they were told that they were being taken for questioning over the video with an impression that they would return to their work station, but that did not happen since as they have continued to be held at the National Security Service headquarters known as Blue House.
“The journalists are all working for the SSBC. They are Tombe Joval, Joseph Oliver, Mustafa Osman, Victor Lado, Cherbek Ruben, and Benjamin Bol. They were taken on the impression that they would be released but since they were arrested on Tuesday, it has been four days now and they haven’t returned to their homes or work,” the journalist who requested not to be named said.
The journalist said that the National Security Service officers who arrested his colleagues had warned against giving statements to the media about their arrested and threatened to arrest anyone who is to give information to the media over the measures and the detention being taken by the National Security Service against alleged distributors of the video.
“Even I am speaking with you, it is not secure but because I am using signal, they have told everyone that that person who would be found speaking to the media any operation being carried out by the security service about this particular issue will be considered hostile individual and will be questioned by the security officers,” he added.
JOURNALIST BODY CONFIRMS DETENTION
When contacted by Sudans Post, the President of the Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJOSS) Oyet Patrick Charles confirmed the arrest of the journalists and said the union is issuing a statement regarding the detention of the journalists and gave no further information as to if the body has been informed by the NSS as to when they would be released.
“Yes, they have been arrested and they are the same names which you have found. We have reached out to government and security officials. They are still being detained and the Union will issue a press statement shortly,” Patrick who said he has been following up with concerned authorities since the journalists’ arrest told Sudans in Juba this afternoon.
It remains unclear as to when the journalists would be released. Yesterday, a senior information ministry official was anonymously quoted by Radio Tamazuj as saying that they journalists were being taken for questioning would possibly be released and dismissed the claim and the use of the work “arrest” to referred to the detention of the journalists.
“We accept that some of our colleagues have been taken but not arrested as said by some people. The security just said that the video that was posted on social media happened to be from SSBC and yet we as SSBC did not broadcast any news related to that video,” he said.
“They are not arrested but just taken for formalities of investigations but they will come back. I am not aware of how many of them were taken but I know they include some technical staff and a camera person who was there,” he added.
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