Justin Lynch, a reporter who has reported on ethnic violence amid the conflict in the world’s youngest country, South Sudan, was arrested and deported by the country’s state security agents, he reported on Twitter.
Lynch said the officials didn’t provide an official reason for his deportation, but “repeatedly said that my reporting was too critical of the government.” Lynch had been working for the Associated Press (AP) in South Sudan for six months.
Lynch’s deportation is the latest in a string of events that show a government crackdown on press freedom in South Sudan. In March, Joseph Abandi, a South Sudanese journalist, was arrested by state authorities and later dumped in a graveyard. When he was found, Abandi had been visibly beaten and bore marks of torture.
The harassment of journalists in South Sudan appears to be sanctioned by the country’s president, Salva Kiir. In August of 2015, Kiir threatened to kill journalists who report “against the country.”
In his statement, Lynch points out that because he’s a foreign journalist, his punishment was deportation—a much milder one than that of his “brave South Sudanese colleagues, who are frequently the victim of intimidation or even death.”
An international watchdog backs up that assertion: South Sudan ranked fifth on the Committee to Project Journalists’ 2016 Global Impunity Index, an annual ranking based on the number of unsolved journalist murders in countries around the world. The organization cites the brutal, unsolved murder of five journalists in January of 2015.