The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is vehemently protesting the deportation of an Associated Press (AP) reporter by the government of South Sudan, saying the decision is yet another illustration of how much President Salva Kiir’s government fears independent media coverage.
US-born Justin Lynch (25), of Saratoga in New York, was arrested on Tuesday by National Security Service agents without valid reason and put on a plane to Uganda, reports said.
Lynch, an editorial fellow for New America Foundation, said on Twitter that the officers offered no official explanation for their action. However, he is said to have reported a warning from the UN that fighting between embattled President Kiir’s loyalists and rebel leader Riek Machar presented a ‘potential for genocide’.
“The officers did not officially present me with a reason for my arrest and deportation, but repeatedly said that my reporting was too critical of the government. This is a violation of press freedom,” he wrote on Twitter (@just1nlynch).
“South Sudan needs independent journalism now more than ever. The government should reverse this decision and allow journalists to do their job without harassment,” Murithi Mutiga, CPJ East Africa representative, said in a statement from Nairobi.
AP management is also said to be disappointed by the journalist’s deportation.
“Any move to suppress legitimate journalism and truthful reporting shedding light on humanitarian crimes is wrong and should be condemned. We hope that the government of South Sudan will reconsider its actions,” Fox News quoted Ian Phillips, AP’s VP for international news, as saying.
CPJ research appears to show that crackdown on critical media seems to have dramatically increased in the past few years in this war-torn oil rich nation, with the government closing down media outlets and a number of journalists beaten up, threatened and arrested.
(with the assistance of CJP and Fox News, final editing by Issa Sikiti)
Photo: AP reporter Justin Lynch. credit: Medium.com/justin-lynch