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Suspects snared by WhatsApp exchanges

Publish date: 13 January 2020
Issue Number: 855
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: Burundi

Burundi prosecutors last week sought 15-year jail terms for four reporters and their driver who were detained covering an incursion of rebels from the DRC and charged with endangering state security. A report on the VoA site notes that the journalists were working for Iwacu, one of Burundi's few independent media outlets, when they were detained on 22 October. A source said the prosecution based the hefty sentencing demand largely on a WhatsApp exchange of messages between one of the reporters and a colleague based abroad in which the former wrote: ‘We are heading for Bubanza ... to help the rebels.’ Police say at least 14 rebels from the Burundian RED-Tabara group were killed in an attack the day the journalists were arrested.

Full report on the Voice of America site