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Kidnapped DRC journalist found in a 'very weak state'

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A journalist who went missing in the Democratic Republic of Congo's restive east has been found in a "very weak" state, according to his radio station.

Hassan Murhabazi surfaced on Thursday evening, three days after he was abducted in the city of Bukavu in the South Kivu province, Radio Svein said on Friday.

"He is very weak," Honneur-David Safari, the community radio station's manager, said in a post on Facebook, adding that the presenter "confirms" he was kidnapped.

"The circumstances under which he was found remain unclear and will be released later after medical tests."

Safari said Murhabazi went missing after leaving his house on Tuesday.

He left without his mobile phone following an "urgent call from a stranger", the station manager said in a statement earlier this week. Radio Svein was "very worried about this sudden silence of a journalist who has always communicated on his movements", added Safari.

Murhabazi is the host of a programme called "Mkate", which covers general news and politics, and often gets threatening text messages, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

The global press freedom group said that prior to his disappearance, Murhabazi was called a "devil" and "little journalist" in some of the texts and was told to stop talking about Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, the ruling coalition's candidate for the DRC's long-delayed presidential election on December 23.

RSF said Murhabazi had aired a programme on Shadary, RSF said.

President Joseph Kabila, whose second and final term ended two years ago, named last month his former interior minister as his chosen successor in the upcoming ballot.

RSF said journalists have been the victims of a total of 22 attacks and 35 arrests during the first eight months of 2018 in the DRC.

Independent news websites and radio stations have become popular in the central African country, where the traditional press is mostly owned by politicians.

The DRC is ranked 154th, out of 180 countries, in the RSF's press freedom index.
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