August 07, 2014 (JUBA) – A local journalist in South Sudan’s Northern Bahr el Ghazal state has been forced into hiding after authorities allegedly threatened to arrest him, a group advocating for media freedom said Thursday.
- Committee to Protect Journalists logo (Image - CPJ)
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CJP) said Abraham Agoth, a freelance reporter, fled the state capital, Aweil, to escape arrest on orders of the caretaker governor, Kuel Aguer Kuel, last month.
Agoth works for the Voice of America (VOA), Gurtong Trust and the Patriot newspaper.
“The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities in South Sudan to ensure the safety of [Agoth] who has been hiding since late July,” CPJ said in a statement.
Governor Kuel was reportedly “unhappy with his [Agoth] coverage of state security for several media outlets”.
But while the caretaker governor admitted summoning the reporter, he denied every threatening him.
CPJ’s account was, however, contradicted by South Sudan’s presidential spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny, who insisted that “nobody intimidates anyone here in South Sudan”.
“Anybody talks his mind or her mind because we have [in the Transitional constitution] article 24 which [talks about] freedom of expression,” Ateny said while speaking on Bakhita radio on Thursday.
“Anybody has a right under that article to talk his or her mind provided that he doesn’t impeach on national security. That is the only exception,” he added.
South Sudan, which got independence three years ago, is yet to put in place its media laws. Last year, the country ranked 124 out of 148 countries in the world press freedom status, Reporters Without Borders said.