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Ugandan social media critic of president released on bail

June 15, 2015

A Ugandan court released on bail Monday a man accused of criticising President Yoweri Museveni on social media, including comments about the veteran leader’s health.

Robert Shaka, who was charged with questioning 70-year-old Museveni’s health, paid a two million shilling bail (630 dollars, 560 euros). Shaka denies all charges.

He is charged with having “disturbed the right to privacy of the president by posting statements regarding his health condition on Facebook.”

Shaka, 39, who works in computing, is next due in court on June 30.

“It’s a matter which is primarily one of freedom of speech,” Shaka’s lawyer Isaac Semakadde said, adding there was “overriding public interest” in Museveni’s health.

The president, who is expected to stand for re-election next year, has not responded directly to Shaka’s posts, but last week issued a statement criticising “irresponsible people spreading falsehoods” via social media, and dismissing any reports of ill health.

“Fortunately, in the whole 70 years of my life, God has given me excellent health, save for occasional malaria attacks, coughs or mild allergic reactions in the nose,” Museveni said in a statement.

“Even today, there are hardly any physical exertions that I cannot undertake except squatting, which I find a bit uncomfortable these days.”

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