Police arrested Kavumbagu, editor of the online news outlet Net Press, on treason charges stemming from commentary critical of the country’s security forces. The July 12 piece came a day after deadly twin bomb attacks in neighboring Uganda.
The hard-line Somali insurgency Al-Shabaab, which claimed responsibility for the Ugandan bombings, threatened more attacks if Uganda and Burundi did not withdraw military forces deployed in Somalia in support of the federal government there, according to news reports. Kavumbagu’s opinion piece questioned the ability of the Burundian security forces to prevent bomb attacks similar to those that struck Uganda.
Defense lawyer Gabriel Sinarinzi told CPJ that Kavumbagu was being held in pretrial detention at Mpimba Prison in Bugumbura. The charge could bring life imprisonment.
Kavumbagu had been imprisoned in 2008 on defamation charges related to an article critical of the amount of money spent on a presidential trip to the Beijing Olympics. That charge was eventually dismissed, Sinarinzi said.