NPR Reporter Freed in South Sudan After 3 Nights in Jail

JUSTIN LYNCH, AP

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A journalist for NPR has been released by South Sudan’s government, which held him for nearly four days, according to a spokeswoman for the organization.

Eyder Peralta was held for three nights and released on Monday, Isabel Lara, a spokeswoman for NPR told The Associated Press in an email. Peralta has returned to his base in Kenya.

Peralta’s South Sudanese assistant is still being held by authorities. “The fixer remains in custody and we are in touch with authorities regarding his release,” said the NPR spokeswoman.

South Sudan officials did not respond for requests for comment.

Peralta’s detention was the latest in a crackdown on foreign journalists in South Sudan, the East African nation that gained independence in 2011 but has experienced renewed civil war. At least 13 foreign journalists have been denied media accreditation or visas to South Sudan so far this year. An AP reporter was detained and expelled from South Sudan in December.

Media freedom in South Sudan was significantly restricted before fighting in Juba in July killed hundreds of people and kicked off renewed civil war, according to a U.N. panel of experts report released earlier this month.

Since July the situation for journalists has gotten worse, and some journalists have been detained for publishing articles critical of the government, according to the U.N report.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least five journalists have been killed in South Sudan since it gained independence in 2011.

South Sudan ranks 145th in a press freedom survey released last week by Reporters Without Borders.

South Sudan’s civil war began in December 2013, and according to U.N. officials the country is experiencing famine, ethnic cleansing and is close to genocide.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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