Journalists have been arrested over footage of South Sudan’s president wetting himself

NAIROBI, Jan 7 (Reuters) – Six South Sudanese journalists have been arrested over the circulation of a video showing President Salva Kiir urinating at an official event, the National Journalists Syndicate said on Saturday.

Footage from December showed a dark spot dotting the gray trousers of the 71-year-old president as he stood with the national anthem at the commissioning road event. The video clip was never broadcast on television but later circulated on social media.

Patrick Awet, president of the Federation of South Sudanese Journalists, said the journalists, who work for the state-run South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation, were arrested on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“It is suspected that they learned how a video of the president urinating himself came to light,” he told Reuters.

South Sudan’s Information Minister Michael Makuei and National Security Service spokesman David Komori did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

He has headed Kiir since South Sudan gained independence in 2011. Government officials have repeatedly denied rumors circulating on social media that he is ill. The country has been embroiled in conflict for most of the past decade.

The two arrested journalists are Joseph Oliver and Mustafa Othman; video editor Victor Ladu; Contributor Jacob Benjamin. Ruben Awit Cherbek and Juval Tumbi said from the control room.

He added: “We are concerned that the detainees now have served a longer period than required by law.”

By law, South Sudanese authorities are only allowed to detain suspects for 24 hours before bringing them before a judge.

The incident “fits a pattern of security personnel resorting to arbitrary detention whenever officials deem coverage unfavorable,” said CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa representative Muthuki Momo.

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(Reporting by Einat Mercy; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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