Ugandan author accused of insulting ruling family freed: lawyer

A prominent Ugandan author accused of insulting the country’s ruling family was freed on Wednesday after being detained despite a court order for his release, his lawyer said.

Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, whose case has triggered international concern, was “dumped” by the military at his country home in eastern Uganda after being held at a military police barracks, lawyer Eron Kiiza told AFP.

“He is released but weak and we have taken him to hospital in Kampala,” Kiiza added.

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A court on Tuesday had ordered the novelist’s release on bail, with the proviso that he not speak to reporters before the conclusion of his trial on charges of offending President Yoweri Museveni and his powerful son on social media.

But his lawyer said that instead of being freed, the award-winning writer was “kidnapped” from prison several hours later by armed men in plain clothes.

Rukirabashaija — who his lawyers say has been tortured since his arrest in late December — was charged on January 11 with “offensive communication” over a series of unflattering Twitter posts about Museveni and his son Muhoozi Kainerugaba.

The author won acclaim for his 2020 satirical novel, “The Greedy Barbarian”, which describes high-level corruption in a fictional country.

He was awarded the 2021 PEN Pinter Prize for an International Writer of Courage, which is presented annually to a writer who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs.

The United States, the EU and civil society groups had voiced concern about his detention and called for his release.


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