Harvard student’s lawsuit against Uganda’s president and aides for blocking him on Twitter gets attention

Etsey Atisu Aug 29, 2019 at 05:30pm

August 29, 2019 at 05:30 pm | News

Etsey Atisu

Etsey Atisu | Staff Writer

August 29, 2019 at 05:30 pm | News

Two of president Yoweri Museveni's aides have been jointly sued with him for blocking a Harvard student who called the president a dictator | The New Times-Rwanda

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has decided not to comment on the issue regarding the Harvard student who has sued him for blocking him on Twitter, Don Wanyama, a media aide to the president has said.

The Harvard University student, Hillary Innocent Taylor Seguya, who is pursuing a master’s degree in International Relations, argued in his suit that being blocked on Twitter means that his right to access information about his country has been violated, reports the CNN. The suit also named two public officials.

One of the two officials, Ofwono Opondo, who manages the president’s Twitter page, has explained his reasons for blocking Seguya.

“Yes I realized I blocked him (Seguya) for offensive communication, I block whoever directs offensive communication to me personally, and I have no apologies,” Opondo told the CNN.

He added the student could access government-related information on the internet without having to depend on Twitter posts.

But Seguya has argued that the block prevents him from giving feedback to the official account about government policies on Twitter.

“The President’s tweet has first-hand information about the country, and as a Ugandan living in the Diaspora, I am missing out on that information which is imperative to me. His actions have violated my right of freedom of speech, and he must unblock me,” Seguya told the CNN.

Seguya believes that he may have been blocked because of a post he shared on Twitter in April where he called Museveni a dictator following his over three-decade rule in Uganda.

Seguya was also, on August 8, blocked on Twitter by Assistant Inspector General of Police Asan Kasingye (@Akasingye). 

Hillary Innocent Taylor Seguya, a global youth ambassador, contends that Museveni’s actions bar him from online conversation. Photograph: Courtesy of Taylor Seguya

He has accordingly petitioned the civil division of the high court in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, to declare Museveni’s action as illegal, procedurally improper, unreasonable and irrational.

“But why would a public official block someone for their opposing view? With this, public servants will see that the people they lead can make them accountable,” the student said.

Seguya wants the legal challenge to set a precedent in Uganda, just like it has already happened in the United States, when, in July, a U.S. court stopped President Donald Trump from blocking Twitter users following a challenge brought forward by seven individuals.

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