AUGUST 9, 2010: Journalist Becomes First Victim of New Law

Journalist Becomes First Victim of New Law

SOURCE: The Independent

By Mubatsi Asinja Habati

In what appears to be the first implementation of the recently passed 2007 Communications bill, the police asked journalist Timothy Kalyegira to provide them his email password in their search for what they called seditious materials.

The police in Kampala who are investigating The Uganda Record, an online newspaper, journalist Timothy Kalyegira over alleged publication of seditious stories also demanded for his website administration passwords. This follows confiscation of Kalyegira's laptop, passport, internet modem, mobile telephone and 6-paged A4 notes papers last week after the police searched his home.

Kalyegira's trouble with the police stems from a story he posted on The Uganda Record on July 12 that challenged the official government explanation of the July 11bombings linked to the Somali militia, the al-Shabaab. His story insinuated that the Uganda government could have had a hand in the bombings, something that did not please the Kampala establishment.

The interception of communications law has been criticized for interference with the individual's right to privacy. However, with parliament's passing of the bill into law three days after the Kampala bombings would give the security agencies and government reason to crack on critical voices in the wider public. The bill had stalled for over a year over concerns regarding intrusion of a person's privacy.

According to Kalyegira, the first call he got from police after they had confiscated his laptop was demanding for its password "which I provided. Then, other calls were demanding for my email and website passwords which I declined to provide after I consulted my lawyer," he said.

Kalyegira is expected to report back to police on August 12 after his bond was extended.

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