New York, March 18, 2009--A Burundian online journalist jailed since last September was acquitted today, according to local journalists. In a separate case on Tuesday, however, authorities detained two journalists covering the activities of a former CPJ Press Freedom Award winner, according to the same sources.
Police in the
Sinduhije said that police searched the journalists' vehicle at least three times before they claimed to discover an AK-47 assault rifle in the car. The politician was released late this afternoon, but the journalists, their driver, and four others, including a soldier who said the journalists picked him up on the road, were expected to remain in overnight custody.
"We are greatly troubled by these
arrests," said CPJ's
in the capital,
Speaking to CPJ from the Mpimba Prison today, Kavumbagu said he credited his acquittal to local and international pressure.
welcome the release of Jean-Claude Kavumbagu, who should have never spent six
months behind bars," said CPJ's
was arrested on September 11, 2008, over an article quoting unnamed government
sources as saying that President Pierre Nkurunziza may have spent US$100,000 during his trip to the 2008 summer Olympics in China.
When CPJ conducted its annual census of journalists imprisoned worldwide for their work as of December 1, 2008, Kavumbagu was the only online journalist behind bars in Sub-Saharan Africa. The jailing of online journalists is a growing trend worldwide, according to CPJ research.