Arrested S.Sudan journalist 'freed'

AFP
This aerial view taken on January 10, 2014 shows central Juba, South Sudan
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This aerial view taken on January 10, 2014 shows central Juba, South Sudan (AFP Photo/Nichole Sobecki)

Juba (AFP) - Security forces in war-torn South Sudan on Tuesday released a reporter held for four days for reporting rebel views, colleagues said.

Bakhita Radio news editor Ocen David Nicholas was arrested Saturday "for balancing a news story", the station said, with security forces shutting down the station.

Ocen was released on Tuesday afternoon, colleagues said, although the station remained off air.

"The National Security Service on Tuesday released Bakhita Radio News Editor," read a statement on the station's website.

It added that Ocen "said he was in good health, but traumatised" by his detention.

The Juba-based radio, run by the Roman Catholic Church as part of a network of community-run stations, is one of the country's main independent radio stations.

UN aid chief in South Sudan Toby Lanzer said he was concerned about the "apparent hardening" of the media climate in the country.

Earlier this month rights groups warned that security forces had cracked down on journalists, suffocating debate on how to end the fighting, which has now entered its ninth month.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than 1.5 million have fled fighting between government troops, mutinous soldiers and ragtag militia forces divided by tribe.

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