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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04KIGALI1162 2004-08-13 05:35:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kigali
Cable title:  

SPECIAL INTELLIGENCE UNIT INFILTRATES RWANDA'S

Tags:   PGOV PHUM PINR PINS RW 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KIGALI 001162 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/C AND DRL: MICHAEL ORONA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/13/2014
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR PINS RW
SUBJECT: SPECIAL INTELLIGENCE UNIT INFILTRATES RWANDA'S
INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER

REF: A. KIGALI 00105

B. 03 KIGALI 01990

Classified By: Maya Dietz, Political Officer. Reason 1.4 (d).



1. (C) SUMMARY: The new Chief Editor of Rwanda's most
independent newspaper, "Umuseso", Charles Kabonero, was
detained for six weeks in December 2003, not recently as
reported by international media. He reports that a special
intelligence unit within the National Police's Criminal
Investigation Department (CID), tasked with "shutting down"
the paper, recruited and armed an "Umuseso" employee who
spied on the paper for the GOR. The police continue to
threaten to confiscate the paper when it prints articles
critical of the government or government officials. Most
recently, only intervention by the RDF's Chief of General
Staff prevented authorities from confiscating an issue that
published an article suggesting a Burundi clique was
challenging President Kagame's power. END SUMMARY.



2. (C) Contrary to recent reports in the international press,
Charles Kabonero, Chief Editor of Rwanda's primary
independent newspaper, "Umuseso", has not been in detention
for the last six weeks. He explained to Poloff in an August
6 meeting that he had been detained beginning in December
2003, and was held day and night for six weeks, without being
charged. He, along with other "Umuseso" journalists and
editors, were held at a Department of Military Intelligence
(DMI) center in Dikaranga. (Note: Post has not been able to
confirm such a location. End Note.)



3. (C) Kabonero, and the newspaper, however, have been
experiencing difficulties over the past two months. In early
June, according to Kabonero, an Assistant Commissioner in the
Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Director of the
Special Intelligence Unit, John Gacinya Rugumya, approached a
new "Umuseso" journalist and offered him Rwf 5 million
(approximately USD 8,700) to help the CID shut down the
newspaper. The journalist accepted the offer and began
providing the CID with names of "Umuseso" sources,
information about its employees, and an analysis of the
paper's strengths and weaknesses. Kabonero alleges that
Gacinya even gave the spy a handgun, suggesting that he could
either "cause trouble" at the newspaper's office, forcing the
police to come and arrest everyone; or, more sinisterly, the
spy could kill those present in the office, and the CID would
burn the building.



4. (C) Kabonero learned of the plot when "Umuseso" employees
who had been emailed by the informant asked Kabonero why this
new employee was seeking sensitive information from them.
Kabonero then gathered evidence and wrote letters--first to
the Commissioner General of the CID, then to the Minister of
Information and the President of the High Council of the
Press. While there was an encounter between the spy and
Kabonero at the newspaper's office on July 31, Kabonero and
other employees were only temporarily detained by the
judicial police. Instead, the CID froze "Umuseso" bank
accounts, Kabonero said. The judicial police have begun
questioning the "Umuseso" marketing representative and
accountants, hoping to find some irregularity on which to
detain the staff and/or shut down the paper, according to
Kabonero.



5. (C) Kabonero believes there is little recourse for him or
his journalists in the Rwandan system. The High Council has
refused to take up their case, and "Umuseso" has already lost
one lawyer due to pressure from GOR officials to desist from
his work on their behalf. "Umuseso" most frequently faces
harassment for publishing articles concerning army officials.
Kabonero claims the police never question the truth of the
articles, but rather seek to learn where the paper gets its
information. Kabonero stated that he has been told while in
detention that he will be punished "with rules not in the
official books".



6. (C) According to Kabonero, the judicial police threatened
to confiscate the most recent issue of "Umuseso", which
featured an article written by Kabonero suggesting that an
alliance of returnees from Burundi was beginning to challenge
President Kagame's authority. The article suggests that
Denis Polisi (Deputy Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies),
Charles Murigande (Minister of Foreign Affairs and
Cooperation), and Francois Ngarambe (RPF Secretary General)
form the power-center of this group. One example Kabonero
gave was Polisi's blocking of legislation that came directly
from the President's office. Kabonero believes this issue
was not confiscated because he appealed to the RDF Chief of
General Staff, Major General James Kabarebe, for help.
Kabarebe, he said, called the head of judicial police,
Emmanuel Bayingana, and told him not to confiscate the paper.
The three accused (Polisi, Murigande, and Ngarambe) have
publicly denounced the accusations; Polisi called a press
conference earlier this week to announce he would take legal
action against "Umuseso".



7. (C) COMMENT: Over the past two years, the quality of
"Umuseso" reporting has steadily decreased, as GOR harassment
and repeated detentions have led editor after editor to flee
the country and seek asylum. On the other hand, it remains
the only newspaper in Rwanda willing to print stories
critical of the GOR, and many Rwandans believe its news to be
credible. The alleged intelligence operation against the
paper suggests that the GOR wants to eliminate the paper
entirely, not just weaken it. As Kabonero points out, the
paper has never been accused of violating the media law,
which would allow the GOR to close the paper permanently.
Instead, it seems the GOR is using the flailing paper to
identify any possible leaks in the government.



8. (C) On several occasions, the GOR has gone to great
lengths to confiscate issues of "Umuseso" that report
derogatory information on senior GOR officials. In November
2003, authorities entered BBC's Kigali offices to seize
information on the Secretary General of the National Security
Service that had been passed to BBC by "Umuseso" (ref B).
When the GOR has allowed "Umuseso" to criticize GOR
officials, their resignations have followed. Earlier this
year, the GOR allowed "Umuseso" to publish allegations of
financial improprieties that implicated former Prosecutor
General and Supreme Court Vice President Gerald Gahima (ref
A). Within weeks, Gahima resigned and his brother, former
Ambassador to the U.S. Theogene Rudasingwa, immediately
announced a sudden leave of absence from his post as
President Kagame's Chief of Staff. That the GOR has allowed
"Umuseso" to publish a report claiming that the Foreign
Minister and other senior officials are challenging Kagame's
power may therefore reflect tensions within the
administration. END COMMENT.
O'LEARY