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Rwanda journalist questioned over threats

January 2, 2015

Police in Uganda said Friday they had questioned a Rwandan journalist over allegations he threatened a colleague working with the BBC because of the broadcaster’s “negative stories”.

Police said the Kampala-based bureau chief for The New Times, a Rwandan government newspaper, had been questioned but released without charge pending further investigations.

“We called in Gashegu Muramira after receiving a complaint from the BBC journalist, Ignatius Bahizi, that he had been threatened” by several people, including Gashegu, “for what they claim to have been negative stories on Rwanda,” Ugandan police spokesman Fred Enanga told AFP.

“We have recorded statements, and investigations are on going,” he added.

Speaking to AFP, Gashegu rejected the accusations: “I know Bahizi as a colleague and we have shared news tips and our relationship has been cordial. I was surprised by these allegations,” he said.

The BBC is currently under investigation in Rwanda over the broadcast of a controversial documentary on the central African country’s leadership and the 1994 genocide.

It highlighted growing criticism of President Paul Kagame and revived allegations that his Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) — then a rebel group, now the ruling political party — was behind the shooting down of a plane carrying the country’s then Hutu president that triggered the genocide.

The Rwandan authorities, backed up by several international experts and academics, have accused the BBC of genocide revisionism and the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) has blocked BBC radio services in the local Kinyarwanda language while the affair is investigated.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.