JOHANNESBURG, July 19 – The Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) on Wednesday revealed that South Sudan authorities have jailed Adil Faris Mayat, the public broadcaster director, because he failed to air a live state of the nation speech by President Salva Kiir on that country’s independence day.
CPJ, which is calling for the immediate release of Mayat, said National Security Service agents arrested the director of the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation in Juba on July 10.
“South Sudanese authorities should immediately release Adil Faris Mayat,” CPJ said in a statement.
CPJ said Mayat’s wife, Amira Alnahawi, believes agents arrested her husband because he failed to air a live state of the nation speech by Kiir on 9 July, marking the country’s sixth independence day.
“Which news to air or not air is not a decision for South Sudanese authorities to make or even to influence,” said CPJ Africa Program coordinator Angela Quintal, who is based in New York.
“We call on the government of President Salva Kiir to release Adil Faris Mayat immediately and allow the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation and all news outlets to do their work without political interference or fear of arrest.”
CPJ said since 2013, South Sudan has been embroiled in a civil war that has displaced millions and killed tens of thousands. Press freedom conditions have worsened during that time, with journalists telling CPJ that they fear detention or death for writing critically. In 2015, Kiir threatened to kill journalists for writing stories that went “against the country.”