A Ugandan journalist Henry Wasswa Lumanyika is detained at Entebbe Police Station on charges of Criminal Trespass, after allegedly lodging and interviewing Afghan evacuees.
Wasswa, a senior correspondent with Deutsche Press Agentur (DPA), the German Press Agency,) was arrested on Thursday by security officers at Imperial Resort Beach Hotel, a facility that is hosting the 51 Afghan evacuees who arrived in Uganda on Wednesday.\
They are part of a group that is fleeing Afghanistan as the United States rushes to airlift thousands of people out of the country, after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban.
According to sources, 60-year-old Wasswa booked and checked into the hotel on Tuesday night, a day before the evacuees arrived and paid USD 167 for his accommodation. At the time, there was no indication that the security was out of bounds for Ugandan nationals or any other visitors, even though its security had been heightened.
However, Wasswa’s woes began after security officers with the Ministry of Internal Affairs tags questioned him after interviewing some of the evacuees for news articles. “He was arrested because the hotel is now out of bounds. His presence could jeopardize the security of the evacuees and our national security interests,” one of the security officers told URN.
Kampala Metropolitan Police deputy spokesperson Luke Owoyesigire says that Wasswa was doing work at the wrong time and in the wrong place. He says that the police in Entebbe have opened a general inquiries file to establish Wasswa’s intention while at the hotel.
Early this week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs cautioned Ugandans against taking and publishing pictures of the Afghan evacuees hosted in the country. State Minister for Regional cooperation John Mulimba said that any such action may be tantamount to a security threat.
Mulimba said that some of the evacuated persons could be wanted by the Taliban government and taking their photographs could put their lives in danger and added that there is a need for media houses to report very cautiously because the matter has components of national security.
“I need to make an appeal to honourable colleagues, the country, but particularly to the media houses that the evacuees, who are now stateless, are people who are stressed, they need some kind of treatment such that they recover,” he said in a statement presented to Parliament.