KINSHASA: The Democratic Republic of Congo’s intelligence service has detained US journalist Stavros Nicolas Niarchos after he allegedly approached armed groups in the country’s southeast, a senior government official said on Sunday.

Local civil-society groups such as RECN quoted in local media said that Niarchos and a Congolese journalist were arrested in the southeastern city of Lubumbashi on Wednesday and taken to the capital Kinshasa.

A senior government official confirmed on Sunday that the Congolese intelligence agency ANR is holding Niarchos in Kinshasa.

The 33-year-old journalist, who writes for US magazines The Nation and The New Yorker, had made contact with armed groups including the Bakata Katanga militia, the official said.

“He made movements that were never previously reported to the authorities,” the official explained, noting that the government “must be vigilant” after the murder of two United Nations experts in 2017.

The UN had hired experts American Michael Sharp and Swedish-Chilean Zaida Catalan to probe violence in the Kasai region of central DRC, where they were kidnapped and killed.

“The Congolese authorities have no interest in keeping an American journalist,” the senior government official said, adding that he may be released on Tuesday.

Niarchos travelled to the DRC to report on nature conservation, the economy and culture for The Nation magazine, according to the journalist’s official accreditation.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2022

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