Uganda frees Kenyan BBC journalist detained over drugs probe


BBC offices. PHOTO | COURTESY
BBC offices. PHOTO | COURTESY

Ugandan police have released a Kenyan BBC journalist after detaining him overnight on suspicion of illegally possessing government prescription drugs.

Kasim Muhammad is among among five people who were arrested in the incident that drew sharp criticism from several media rights organisations.

Two Ugandan journalists: Godfrey Badyebe and Rashid Kaweesa; Vivian Nakaliika, the wife of one of Solomon Serwanjja who works as an anchor at NBS TV in Kampala and Shafiq Kisame, a driver, had also been detained.

Serwanjja later turned himself in and was released on bail, the BBC said.

Police freed them after establishing that the three journalists were conducting a legitimate investigation into the illegal sale of government drugs by officials.

“It is clear that their motive was to show how easy it was to buy government drugs,” a police statement said.

“We do encourage them to continue with their documentary program and achieve their intended objective of exposing their targets, to help prevent such occurrences in future.”

Police detained the five on Thursday after seizing fourteen boxes of prescription tablets, vaccines and other material.

Uganda’s crippled health sector has frequently been hit by protests over dilapidated government hospitals, the widespread theft of government drugs and poor pay for health workers.

Police said they were working with the public prosecutor to establish whether the journalists broke any laws during their investigations.

Report from Reuters and BBC

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