A Ugandan novelist accused of insulting royal family has been released: lawyer

A notable Ugandan novelist accused of insulting the country's ruling family was released on Wednesday

A notable Ugandan novelist accused of insulting the country’s ruling family was released on Wednesday after being jailed despite a court decision ordering his release, according to his lawyer.

Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, whose case has sparked international outrage, was “dumped” by the military at his country home in eastern Uganda after being held at a military police barracks, according to his lawyer, Eron Kiiza, who spoke to AFP on his behalf.

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“He has been released, but he is in poor health, and we have rushed him to a hospital in Kampala,” Kiiza continued.

A judge in Uganda approved the novelist’s release on bail on Tuesday, with the condition that he not talk to reporters until the conclusion of his trial on charges of upsetting President Yoweri Museveni and his influential son on social media before being tried.

However, according to his attorney, instead of being released, the award-winning writer was “kidnapped” from prison a few hours later by armed men in plain clothes, who took him to a location unknown.

Rukirabashaija, whose lawyers allege that he has been tortured since his arrest in late December, was charged on January 11 with “offensive communication” in connection with a series of disparaging tweets about Museveni and his son Muhoozi Kainerugaba that he made on Twitter.

The author received critical recognition for his satirical novel “The Greedy Barbarian,” which will be published in 2020 and exposes high-level corruption in a fictional society.

PEN International’s Pinter Prize for an International Writer of Courage, which is granted yearly to a writer who has been persecuted for their political beliefs, was given to him in recognition of his work in 2021.

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The United States, the European Union, and civil society organisations had expressed their displeasure with his arrest and demanded that he be released.

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