Andrew Mwenda arrested

Edit: As of Monday, Mwenda is out of jail on bond, but he is supposed to report to police on Tuesday.

Reuters reported Saturday that Andrew Mwenda, one of Uganda’s — if not Africa’s — most tenacious journalists, has been arrested along with two colleagues, Odobo Bichachi John Njoroge. The Daily Monitor is saying a photographer, Joseph Kiggundu, has also been taken.

Mwenda’s paper, the Independent, has an account of the arrest and the raid that followed it:

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.

Then the search starts from the editors’ offices but not before some ugly scenes. Herbert Labejja, the magazine’s office assistant, demands one of the men to clean his shoes before he enters the office. In response, the operative who had earlier pushed his away past Musede sprang, collared him and shook him around accusing him of being big-headed as Labejja struggled to free himself.

But it was only the beginning; a few minutes later the two are locked in another exchange as the officer dragged Labejja out of the washroom, informing his colleague that he (Labejja) was hiding a gun there.

In the office, Bichachi’s continuous pleas to establish what seditious material the group was looking for went unanswered as they turned the lockers, poured documents, ransacked drawers and anywhere they suspected the seditious material was kept.

Outside, the besieged journalists and other employees were busy on their phones, mostly messaging, even as they went about trying to figure out what the raid this time was about until the phones were confiscated and they were barred from leaving the inner open space, not even to use the washrooms.

A Facebook group has been set up to keep people informed on the efforts to have him released.

Also, among the ten things Tumwijuke wants to know:

4. Why Andrew Mwenda is arrested and it makes international headlines and yet when 13 journalists in radio stations around the country were (between January and March this year) arrested for doing their jobs, publicly threatened by politicians and sacked for speaking the truth it barely made the news briefs in the local media.

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