Ugandan police on August 17, 2018 detained Samuel Kyambadde, a political show host and news presenter with the privately owned Metro FM, on allegations that he incited violence during his program, Kyambadde told CPJ on August 22. The journalist was released on bond the following day and is required to report daily to the Old Kampala Metropolitan police station, according to Kyambadde and a document seen by CPJ.
Kyambadde’s show on August 17 included a discussion on political tension and unrest in Uganda, including the arrest of opposition MP Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, that triggered protests in parts of the country, according to Kyambadde and Metro FM’s content manager, Herbert Kyewalyanga.
During the show Kyambadde aired audience calls and read audience messages that were critical of the MP’s arrest, and some messages that ridiculed the government, Kyewalyanga said. Kyambadde told CPJ that at least one caller mentioned the assault and arrests of journalists by security personnel.
Both journalists told CPJ that they stopped airing the show a few minutes before the scheduled ending after several people identifying themselves as police called the station to complain. Kyambadde told CPJ that as he was leaving the station after the show, he observed three men whom he believed to be plainclothes police officers, asking for him at the reception, and two people dressed in military uniform waiting outside. Kyewalyanga told CPJ he did not recall seeing security personnel at the station.
Kyambadde said that he went to the Old Kampala Police Station later that day, after he received multiple calls from individuals who identified themselves as police officers and asked him to go to the station. Police demanded recordings of his show, which the management provided, Kyambadde and Kyewalyanga said.
Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire said that neither he nor Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander Moses Kafeero called Kyambadde or Metro FM that day in connection to the program, but he said that he provided the journalist’s contact details to investigating officers.
Owoyesigyire told CPJ on August 23, 2018 that he was aware of the case, but that he did not know Kyambadde was arrested. Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander Kafeero did not answer a phone call from CPJ on August 23 or respond to a text message asking about Kyambadde’s case.
Kyambadde told CPJ he has not hosted the political show since his arrest and on August 24 management suspended him from hosting his political show and asked him to write a letter to say that he would not breach broadcasting rules before he could resume other duties in the newsroom. Kyewalyanga told CPJ on August 27 that Kyambadde was suspended from his political talk show pending the police investigation, but that he “will resume his news anchoring duties.”