Ugandan activist Stella Nyanzi has been charged with cyber harassment over a Facebook post in which she referred to President Yoweri Museveni as “a pair of buttocks”, a reference which her official charge sheet has described as “obscene or indecent”.
Unexpectedly, there is no mention in the official charges of the insults she aimed at First Lady Janet Museveni.
However, abusing the president is a criminal offence and easier to prosecute if proven.
The courtroom in Kampala is full for the high-profile case and the hashtag #FreeStellaNyanzi has been trending across the country, with many shocked at what they consider to be government intimidation of someone who is speaking out over girls’ sexual health.
Stella has however denied charges of attempting to “disturb the peace, quiet or privacy” of President Yoweri Museveni through a Facebook post in which she called him a “pair of buttocks”.
Appearing in court in the capital, Kampala, Stella Nyanzi said she was not guilty of cyber harassment:
Your honour, I write a lot on my social media. I use metaphors in my writing. I am a writer and I use language as a tool. I have called His Excellency a rapist of the constitution. I have called him impotent. All those are metaphors. However, your honour, I am not guilty of cyber harassment.
In response to the charge of “computer misuse”, Ms Nyanzi said:
Your honour, I have not offended the president. Ugandans are the ones who are offended. He makes promises to provide sanitary pads to girls and he doesn’t deliver them. But, your honour, I am not guilty of computer misuse.”
Sources: BBC, Reuters