Rwandan journalist arrested for 'spying' in Burundi
BUJUMBURA, Burundi – A Rwandan journalist has been arrested and charged with "spying" in neighboring Burundi, law officials said Friday, June 12, as the country clamps down on the media whom it accuses of organising anti-government protests.
Etienne Besabesa Mivumbi was arrested on Monday carrying his voice recorder and camera in the northeastern Giteranyi district, local prosecutor Ernest Nduwimana told Agence France-Presse.
"We charged him with spying because he was a journalist who sought information without accreditation," Nduwimana said, adding Mivumba was being held in custody.
After visiting him in prison Adam Ruhamiriza, of Burundi's Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODH), said Mivumbi insisted he was reporting on agriculture and trade in the Rwanda-Burundi border region.
Ruhamiriza said it appeared the journalist had been beaten while in detention as security forces interrogated him as to the whereabouts of alleged Burundian rebel training camps in Rwanda.
Burundi has been in crisis since late April over President Pierre Nkurunziza's controversial bid to stand for a third consecutive five-year term, a move branded by opponents as unconstitutional and a violation of a 2006 peace deal that ended 13 years of civil war.
The government said protests had ended, and that the remaining demonstrators were only being organized by journalists. Opposition leaders have dismissed the claim.
Several journalists who have been covering Burundi's crisis, which has seen weeks of street demonstrations, a violent police crackdown and a failed coup attempt by a section of the army, have complained of being subjected to threats -- including death threats -- by members of the police or other branches of the security forces.
Rights group Amnesty International said this week that Burundian journalists were operating in a "climate of fear", while Reporters Without Borders said on Thursday that some 50 journalists had fled the country "for security reasons and say it is still too dangerous to go back."
Relations between Rwanda and Burundi have been tense after Rwanda President Paul Kagame urged Nkurunziza to end his bid for a third term.
According to the Rwanda News Agency, Mivumbi was working for the local Izuba radio and Igihe.com website. – Rappler.com