9 August 2007

Rwanda: Government Was Plotting to Accuse Me of Spying - Asylum Seeking Journalist

Kigali — Mr. Eleneus Akanga has accused authorities in Rwanda of plotting to malign him as Ugandan spy - the reason for which he had to flee to Britain, RNA reports.

Information available however indicates that he is under detained surveillance in Glasgow awaiting his asylum decision due on August 16.

"Am free, alive, safe and sound. How is everything there? Tell me has the new press law been passed? Im particularly interested in knowing whether the defamation clause has been suspended or if it still is a criminal offence", Akanga writes in an email to RNA.

According to him, in late July, a close friend told revealed to him the security service was going to accuse him of spying for Uganda. Noting that there is no defence against such an accusation, he fled.

He is now seeking political asylum in the UK and he has been lodged in Glasgow while his case is heard.

"Although he can travel to and live in Uganda or Kenya because of a regional agreement, he was afraid that the Rwandan authorities could get him there, judicially or illegally, because he has heard of people being imprisoned without trial or simply disappearing", a statement from his attorney reads.

Mr. Mark Baillie said Mr. Akanga never planned to go to the UK and this was his last resort, not his first choice. Mr. Akanga apparently wants to continue being a reporter back in Rwanda, Uganda or Kenya.

"If his application for asylum fails (and many Zimbabweans in worse danger have been expelled), perhaps his best protection back home will be publicity for his case", Baillie said.

Shortly after attending a Reuters course in the UK in late May, he and three colleagues were granted authorisations to open their own newspaper in Rwanda but this Weekly Post was closed down in June after one issue by the Minister of Information himself, Prof. Laurent Nkusi.

The Minister has since maintained that after circumspect investigations, he discovered that Mr. Akanga and his colleagues provided faulty information in their applications dossier for a licence.

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