Uganda detains prominent journalist for 'subversive' activities

KAMPALA (Reuters) – Police in Uganda said on Tuesday they had arrested a prominent journalist and news anchor at one of the country’s biggest TV stations for alleged subversive activities.

Samson Kasumba was being investigated along with other co-conspirators, police said.

Journalists from independent media in the East African country are frequently targeted by the government of President Yoweri Museveni and have been jailed or interrogated over their work.

Museveni, in power since 1986, has little tolerance for criticism, the opposition and rights activists say, adding that accusations of crimes against the state are often used to intimidate or silence the media and political opponents.

Kasumba, a news anchor and reporter at NBS Television, was arrested on Monday as he left the station, police spokesman Fred Enanga said.

“He was picked up yesterday evening as he was heading back home,” Enanga told a news conference.

Enanga said detectives had interrogated Kasumba and would conduct searches at various locations for potential evidence. He denied that the arrest was connected to Kasumba’s work as a journalist.

With Museveni widely expected to stand in presidential elections due next year, security forces have been clamping down on supporters of the opposition, including those of musician-turned-lawmaker Bobi Wine, seen as Museveni’s main challenger.

A growing number of authors and online critics of Museveni have also been targeted, often charged with offences that rights activists and lawyers say are a disguised punishment for their censure of government.

A man who wrote a fictional book called “The Greedy Barbarian”, seen as critical of the government, was brought to court on Monday and charged, a charge sheet seen by Reuters on Tuesday showed.

Kakwenza Rukirabashaija was accused of making Facebook posts encouraging people to disobey the government’s anti-coronavirus measures, risking the spread of the infection.

He had been in military detention for a week without access to lawyers or relatives and was charged after his attorneys got a judge to order that he be brought to court.

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