Bobi Wine reaches US after Uganda ‘torture’
Opposition figure arrives in US for treatment after initially being detained and prevented from leaving.
A Ugandan pop star turned opposition politician has arrived in the US for medical care after allegedly being tortured while in detention in his home country.
Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, known as Bobi Wine, said on Twitter on Saturday he had arrived in the US after suffering “brutal torture” by special forces soldiers, allegations the government has denied.
He posted a photo of himself in an airport corridor, sitting in a wheelchair and holding crutches, though it wasn’t clear which city he was in.
Video posted by human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo showed the 36-year-old singer in his trademark red beret and carrying crutches as he was wheeled to the departure gate late on Friday, saluting and thanking supporters along the way.
Kyagulanyi’s attempt to leave Uganda the previous day was blocked by officials. After police detained him at the airport, protests erupted in the Ugandan capital Kampala on Friday.
Kyagulanyi and several other politicians were charged after the motorcade of the president, Yoweri Museveni, was pelted with stones on 13 August. Kyagulanyi was freed on bail on Monday.
Kyagulanyi was elected last year and has amassed a large following among youth electrified by his scathing criticism of Museveni, sometimes delivered in his songs.
Dozens of global musicians, including Chris Martin, Chrissie Hynde and Brian Eno last week issued an open letter condemning the treatment of Kyagulanyi, who in his first public appearance after his arrest had to walk with support and appeared to cry.
Museveni, 74, a close US security ally, has held power since 1986. He has spoken in recent days about “unprincipled politicians taking advantage of our unemployed youth to lure them into riots and demonstrations”.
Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report
Cover photo: Pop-star turned MP Bobi Wine waving to his supporters just before his departure to US where he will be receiving specialized treatment following torture in his home country