Rwandan journalist arrested for ‘spying’ in Burundi

map_of_burundiA Rwandan journalist has been arrested and charged with “spying” in neighbouring Burundi, law officials said Friday, as the country clamps down on media whom they blame for organising anti-government protests.

Etienne Besabesa Mivumbu, reportedly working for the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) was arrested on Monday carrying a voice recorder and camera in the northeastern Giteranyi district, local prosecutor Ernest Nduwimana told AFP.

“We charged him with spying because he was a journalist who sought information without accreditation,” Nduwimana said, adding Mivumba was being held in custody.

Burundi has been in crisis since late April over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial bid to stand for a third consecutive five-year term, a move branded by opponents as unconstitutional and a violation of a 2006 peace deal that ended 13 years of civil war.

The government on Thursday said protests had ended, and that the remaining demonstrators were only being organised by journalists. Opposition leaders have dismissed the claim.

Several journalists who have been covering Burundi’s crisis, which has seen weeks of street demonstrations, a violent police crackdown and a failed coup attempt by a section of the army, have complained of being subjected to threats — including death threats — by members of the police or other branches of the security forces.

Rights group Amnesty International said this week that Burundian journalists were operating in a “climate of fear”, while Reporters Without Borders said on Thursday that some 50 journalists had fled the country “for security reasons and say it is still too dangerous to go back”.

Relations between Rwanda and Burundi have been tense after Rwanda President Paul Kagame urged Nkurunziza to end his bid for a third term.

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