South Sudanese security forces have arrested a leading journalist for reportedly trying to cover a protest amid warnings of a growing press crackdown, colleagues and rights groups said Thursday.
Mading Ngor, a freelance journalist who has written extensively for both South Sudanese and international outlets, was arrested on Wednesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPI) said.
Colleagues who spoke to AFP said Ngor was taking photographs in the capital Juba of demonstrators protesting at the planned demolition of their homes when security officers arrested him.
There was no immediate response from the information ministry or security forces.
Rights groups have repeatedly warned that security forces have cracked down on journalists, suffocating debate on how to end a civil war in which tens of thousands have been killed in the past 14 months.
The arrest comes as South Sudan slipped down six places on press freedom rankings from Reporters Without Borders, who in an annual list released Thursday placed the world's youngest country as the 125th worst nation out of 180.
It said the war has "hit media freedom hard," noting that "news outlets were warned not to cover security issues and journalists were unable to work properly because of the war."
On Wednesday, the CPJ warned journalists in South Sudan are facing growing pressure with reporters killed or attacked and newspapers closed or threated.