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Kenya Airways says Congo is harassing airline after its staff detained

Saturday April 27, 2024

Kenya Airways planes are seen parked at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport near Nairobi, Kenya November 6, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights

Kenya Airways on Friday accused authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) of harassment over the continued detention of two of the airline's staff for alleged customs violations despite a court ordering their release.

A senior Kenyan government official said Kenya had also objected to what he said was their arrest and detention.

Officers from Congo's military intelligence detained the pair on April 19 for allegedly failing to complete customs documentation related to valuable cargo that was meant to be transported a week earlier, the airline said in a statement.

The airline workers have been granted only one short visit by Kenya's embassy staff, Kenya's national carrier said. Congo's government spokesperson Patrick Muyaya said he would give a response later.

"We are perturbed by this action targeting innocent staff and consider it harassment targeting Kenya Airways' business," the airline said.

Korir Sing'oei, the principal secretary at Kenya's foreign affairs ministry, said the government was committed to protecting its citizens abroad.

"Kenya takes great exception to the arrest and detention of its nationals lawfully carrying out commercial activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo by authorities in DRC," he said on social media platform X.

"Our Mission in Kinshasa is engaging actively on the matter."

At the time of the pair's arrest, Kenya Airways (KQ) had not taken possession of the cargo because the logistics handler was still processing documentation, the airline said.

"This cargo was still in the baggage section undergoing clearance when the security team arrived and alleged that KQ was transporting cargo without customs clearance," it said.

On April 25 a court said the two employees should be released to allow due process, the airline added.

Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Additional reporting by Ange Kasongo in Kinshasa and George Obulutsa in Nairobi; Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Mark Potter and Kirsten Donovan


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