NAIROBI, Jan 7 – Six journalists in South Sudan have been detained for circulating footage showing President Salva Kiir wetting himself at an official event, the national journalists’ union said on Saturday.
Footage from December showed a dark stain spread across the 71-year-old president’s gray trousers as he stood for the national anthem at a road commissioning event. The video was never broadcast on television, but subsequently went viral on social media.
The journalists, who work with South Sudan’s state broadcaster, were detained on Tuesday and Wednesday, said Patrick Oyet, president of the Union of South Sudan Journalists.
“They are suspected of knowing how the video of the president urinating on his own appeared,” he told Reuters.
South Sudan’s Information Minister Michael McVay and National Security Service spokesman David Kumuri did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Kiir has been president since South Sudan gained independence in 2011. Government officials have repeatedly denied rumors circulating on social media that he was unwell. The country has been embroiled in conflict for most of the past decade.
The detained journalists are cameramen Joseph Oliver and Mustafa Osman; video editor Victor Lado; Associate Jacob Benjamin; and Cherbek Ruben and Yoval Tumbe from the control room, Oyet said.
“We are concerned because those who are detained now have stayed longer than what the law says,” he added.
By law, South Sudanese authorities are only allowed to detain suspects for 24 hours before bringing them before a judge.
The incident “is consistent with a pattern of security personnel resorting to arbitrary detention when officials deem the coverage unfavorable,” said Mutoki Mumo, sub-Saharan Africa representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Reporting by Ayenat Mersie Editing by Frances Kerry
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