Kampala, 20th/April/2012; The police have quizzed a Daily Monitor journalist Risdel Kasasira over a recent interview with the coordinator of the banned opposition pressure group Activists for Change (A4C) Mathias Mpuuga.
Kasasira, a political reporter appeared before the police’s criminal investigations directorate (CID) and was quizzed by the Media Crimes Department team led by Fred Mirondo for over an hour. The police are investigating cases of incitement of violence in a statement Mpuuga made during an interview with Kasasira which was published in Sunday Monitor of April 8th, 2012 under the headline, our goal is to bring Museveni down.
In the interview, Mpuuga said the opposition was “duty bound to replace” President Museveni due to a breakdown of accountable government and harsh economic times, which the police equates to inciting violence.
During the interrogations, Kasasira who was accompanied by company lawyer James Nangwala and Deputy Company secretary Timothy Ntale, denied any wrong doing by interviewing Mpuuga.
“It was a question and answer interview story, I did not put my opinion at all, so I did not do anything wrong. The police also wanted to know whether I had more details other than what was published in the paper, where I had conducted the interview from and whether I had taken the photos of Mpuuga that were used in the paper. But majorly they wanted to make me a witness to testify against Mpuuga in court to which I declined.” Kasasira told HRNJ-Uganda soon after the interview.
In the summons, the police had asked Kasasira to surrender the original audio and visual form of the interview, to which he declined saying that it was against the media ethics. He vowed to stay focused despite this form of intimidation.
“I will continue doing my work as a journalist, for I know I committed no crime by conducting the interview. So, that intimidation will not stop me from interfacing with news sources.” Kasasira told HRNJ-Uganda.
Nangwala said that it was not possible for a journalist to testify against their sources of news.
“The police have openly turned against journalists who report about opposition related activities. Trying to compel Kasasira to witness against a source clearly manifests the state’s resolve to muzzle the press. Using of journalists as witnesses in criminal investigations by the police would set up journalists against the public which they are meant to serve. This would directly curtail press freedom.” said HRNJ-Uganda Programme Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala.