Uganda: Mwenda, 3 others arrested in newspaper raid

(UPDATE: Andrew Mwenda has been freed on bond, see his letter to supporters on the TED blog.)

Bloggers and independent media outlets in Uganda are reporting that three journalists and a photographer at The Independent, an opposition newspaper based in Kampala, have been arrested and that the paper's offices have been raided by Ugandan security forces. One of those arrested was Andrew Mwenda, who was previously charged with sedition for his coverage of the death of Sudanese vice president John Garang in 2005.

Reuters and Uganda's Daily Monitor ran the story yesterday, and the Independent published a full account of what happened:

In a two-pronged operation, police and operatives from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), Joint Anti-Terrorism Taskforce (JATT) and the Black Mamba squad raided The Independent again, exactly a month after the first raid.

At [Mwenda's] house, the police confiscated his lap-top, flash disks, 43 CDs full of information – both official and private, a manuscript of a book he has co-authored with Prof. Roger Tangri on Elite Corruption and Politics in Uganda. After that, Mwenda was driven to the offices of The Independent.

In no minute, other plain-clothed men, some feigning meanness others calmness, stream into the offices and start taking position as [police detective Joshua] Musede hordes the few employees already at work out of the newsrooms into the open space, saying there is something he is looking for.

Consulting editor Charles C. Bichachi then demands to know what the group was exactly looking for and the authorisation permitting them to do so.

“The ID is enough, he doesn’t have to show a search warrant,” interjected one of them, a relatively tall and light-skinned man feigning calmness, speaking Runyankole with a gun popping out of his waist.

Mwenda’s arrival clears the air as to what the raid this time is about; the team is searching for seditious material that the publication is in possession of; transcripts and audios of interviews of alleged torture victims in safe houses in Kampala and around the country under the wings of CMI.

Juliana at Afromusing writes:

Andrew Mwenda, arguably Africa’s most refreshing intellectual and journalist, has been arrested by Ugandan officials. More here.

This is utter injustice, and i am not even sure where to begin. For now, highlighting it on this blog seems to be one way, please highlight it on yours too, and I am sure some initiatives and online campaigns are being organized. Keep an eye on the TED blog for Updates.

Glenna at Uganda's Scarlett Lion adds:

May 3 is World Press Freedom Day. This year, Uganda was not included on the annual Reporters Without Borders survey. The web site lists no reason behind this decision.

Supporters of Mwenda have set up a Facebook group demanding his release.


  • So sad reading of these arrests in Uganda. When will African governments stop terrorising journalists and allow them their right to freedom of speach and expression and carry out their job of informing the people.

    Hope those will be released and continue to expose the evil works of those who commit crime against humanity.

  • I am not happy with how African Governments treat Jounalists
    I think they should be given freedom to report what they think is helpful to the community. But leaders want to report their interests only.

    On Tuesday 20th may the President Of Uganda meet the Ministers of the Issues of Media reporting what he thinks is not promoting the Government and all media companies in Uganda are to be given code of conducts by the ministry of media lead by Hon Kirunda Kivenjina and this means that they will have to report screened news which is not against the govt.
    Remember Uganda lacks number one in Africa to have lots of fm radio station about 105

  • […] Andrew Mwenda and 3 others arrested in newspaper raid, Global Voices Online, April 28, 2008. Tags: coffee, self-reliance, sustainability, TED, trade-not-aid, Uganda This entry was posted on Sunday, May 25th, 2008 at 9:00 pm and is filed under Africa, Fair Trade. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. […]

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