A Greek American journalist was detained by intelligence officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo after he allegedly approached armed groups in the country’s southeast, a senior government official said on Sunday.
Nicolas Niarchos, a freelance magazine and newspaper journalist mainly focusing on Africa and Europe, and a Congolese colleague were arrested in the southeastern city of Lubumbashi on Wednesday and taken to the capital Kinshasa, civil society groups said.
A senior government official, who requested anonymity, confirmed to AFP 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.
“The ANR took the journalist Nicolas Niarchos to Kinshasa to question him about his close contacts with armed groups, especially the Bakata Katanga,” the source added.
“He undertook moves without first notifying the authorities,” the official continued, arguing that the government “must be vigilant” after the killing of two UN officials in 2017. The United Nations had sent experts Michael Sharpe and Zaida Catalan to investigate violence in the region of Kasai, in central DRC, where they were kidnapped and murdered.
The Congolese official confirmed that the American consul had visited Niarchos, who may be released Monday as local authorities “have no interest in keeping him.”
Niarchos went to DR Congo to report on conservation, economy and culture for The Nation magazine, according to his official accreditation.
Niarchos is the grandson of Greek shipowner Stavros Niarchos. [AMNA]