Search

 

Cablegate: Ugandan Journalists Threatened with Sedition Charges

VZCZCXRO6330
RR RUEHGI RUEHRN RUEHROV
DE RUEHKM #0613 1271157
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 061157Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY KAMPALA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0291
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KAMPALA 000613

SENSITVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM UG
SUBJECT: UGANDAN JOURNALISTS THREATENED WITH SEDITION CHARGES

1. (SBU) Summary: Three journalists from The Independent magazine,
including the Managing Editor Andrew Mwenda, were detained over
"publication of seditious stories" on April 26. Detectives from the
Criminal Investigations Department (CID) interrogated the
journalists for three hours and later released them on police bond.
The police confiscated three computers, a camera and several files
on a search warrant for "seditious material." The Government's move
against Mwenda, who has close ties with regime insiders, comes as no
surprise given the reports in The Independent about the Government's
use of safe houses and first-person accounts of torture. End
Summary.

2. (U) On April 26, three journalists from the privately owned The
Independent, a bi-monthly news magazine, were detained over alleged
publication of seditious and defamatory stories. They were released
on police bond after three hours of interrogation. The journalists
include the Managing Editor, Andrew Mwenda, Contributing Editor,
Charles Bichachi, and a reporter, John Njoroge. A recent story in
The Independent magazine recounted alleged UPDF atrocities in
northern Uganda as it battled the Lords Resistance Army (LRA)
rebels, and the use of torture in government safe houses to quiet
the story's source, a Ugandan military deserter.

3. (U) Mwenda told P/E Chief on April 27 that he was questioned
about a series of stories he was writing on safe houses. He also
said he was grilled about a USD 200,000 consulting and public
relations contract he has with private Rwandan firms. The same
edition of The Independent carried a prominent spread on doing
business in Rwanda. Mwenda stated that his close ties with regime
insiders was also the subject of the police questioning. Museveni's
former legal advisor, Hussein Kashillingi, told P/E Chief on April
30 that Mwenda's sources within State House provided him with
accurate information, which worries those around the President.
Mwenda said that the Government has intimidated printers from
printing the highly popular magazine, forcing Mwenda to go to
different companies for each edition.

4. (U) Mwenda's arrest follows an earlier raid on March 27 during
which GOU security forces failed to apprehend the deserter, who was
the source of the story. On March 5, Mwenda was interrogated by the
detectives from the Media and Political Unit of the Criminal
Investigation Division for two hours over another story he published
about the political and economic dominance of the Bahima, President
Museveni's ethnic minority group, in the government.

- - - -
COMMENT
- - - -

5. (SBU) Mwenda joins six other independent journalists who
currently are facing similar charges of sedition or criminal libel.
These arrests come against the backdrop of Minister of Information
and National Guidance Kirvuna Kivejinja's (September 2007) warning
to the independent media not to report on the first family, the
Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, and national security
issues. Bold, outspoken, and well-connected, Mwenda remains
undeterred by the threat of arrest, and will likely continue writing
about sensitive issues. Mwenda has challenged the laws against
criminal libel, sedition, defamation and sectarianism at the
Constitutional Court, a case that stems from a 2006 arrest. Mwenda
will be appearing in court on May 7, where he may be formally
charged. Recently, he was named by the World Economic Forum among
the "Young Global Leaders" for 2008. He spent 2006-2007 at Stanford
University to escape Government harassment after he wrote an article
about the First Family's "fleecing" of the Government resources for
personal perks.
BROWNING

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC