Journalist-turned-politician to face terrorism charges...
A publisher and former president of the Rwanda Journalists Association, Deo Mushayidi, was over the weekend arrested in connection with recent grenade attacks in Kigali that killed two people and injured scores.
Rwanda’s Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, announced at an ipromptu press conference that Mushayidi was part of a wider network threatening Rwanda's security that includes renegade military officers, Lt Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa and Col. Patrick Karegyeya, who fled into exile in South Africa.
Kayumba and Karegaya are the former army commander and chief of intelligence respectively.
"Deo Mushayidi, one of the main perpetrators of these acts, was arrested in Burundi and is currently in the hands of the police," Ngoga said, reading from a prepared statement. No questions were allowed after his brief statement.
He claimed Mushayidi, previously believed to be in Belgium, has been shuttling between various countries in the region and security forces have been monitoring his movements.
Ngoga said Mushayidi had been extradited to Rwanda to face justice. It is not yet clear how he was arrested and extradited, or where exactly he is being held in Rwanda.
“He is now in the hands of our national police; we have a lot of evidence about his involvement in the recent grenade attacks and about the whole network, the rest are detail that we will keep for investigative purposes,” Ngoga said.
According to local press, Mushayidi also allegedly embezzled millions of Francs provided by UNESCO for the Rwanda Association of Journalist (ARJ). When he was required to account for the money by the media fraternity, he fled to Belgium in March 2000 claiming government persecution. He joined several exiled opposition groups before announcing the formation of his own party - the Alliance for Democracy and the National Reconciliation (ADRN Igihango).
Prior to fleeing, Mushayidi was editor-in-chief of defunct IMBONI newspaper, as well as head of the journalists’ association. He fled together with his partner, Jason Muhayimana, a journalist of the same newspaper, after members of the association management team started agitating for accountability of an unknown amount of money from UNESCO to support the Press House.
A former fighter of the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), Mushayidi joined forces with fierce government critics in Belgium. He became a common voice on BBC and VOA Kinyarwanda broadcasts.
Mushayidi has been accused of working with Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a rebel group operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2007, Mushayidi and other political opposition parties in Europe announced plans to cooperate with the rebels.
Prosecutor General Ngoga told reporters in the Friday night press conference that Mushayidi will be charged with terrorism and causing state insecurity, without specifying when.
Mushayidi will be the first Rwandan journalist to be charged with terrorism activities.
Without naming any one in particular, President Kagame last Wednesday at a press conference announced that some journalists had been found with documents detailing a plan to cause state insecurity.
He also complained about journalists who gave publicity to politicians and army generals who fled the country alleging government persecution.
But Charles Kabonero, one of the journalists who published an interview with Karegeya critical of Kagame's government denied the accusation.
“Its within my journalism profession to carry out an interview with anybody and anywhere without the President’s consent. I can even meet Bin Laden leave alone military generals who are Rwandans and need their side told," Kabonero said.
President Kagame also expressed his disappointment with the EastAfrican, a regional weekly published in Nairobi, for giving space to his political opponents.