Police have summoned controversial political blogger Ashburg Kato after he mysteriously disappeared on April 30, 2019 and reappeared in public amid claims he was tortured by security forces.
It all started with the circulation of photos of a man with open wounds on the back on social media, saying they reflected the situation of Ashburg had been arrested and tortured.
However, in a statement, police spokesperson Fred Enanga said they’ve never held Ashburg in their custody and now want him to appear before detectives for interrogation.
“We strongly condemn the circulation of the photo which was established to be an image of a black man tortured in an informal Libyan slave market,” said Enanga.
He described the viral picture as an online smear campaign against the reputation of Police and sister security agencies.
Ashburg, a People Power activist, has in recent months sparked a social media firestorm by launching endless attacks on Dr Kizza Besigye.
Ashburg’s relentless attacks triggered a heavy response from Besigye’s supporters, fuelling bad blood between the two opposition leaders’ camps.
Enanga said the Ashburg ‘torture photo’ phenomena was part of the “tactics being used by selected political actors to make it appear like there is a breakdown on the rule of law in the country.”
“The propaganda aimed to portray the human rights situation in a negative light targeting the police especially,” said Enanga, emphasising, “The caption used, suggested that he (Ashburg Kato) is under police custody.”
Police said Ashburg resurfaced on Tuesday after allegedly missing almost a week.
“We encourage him together with relatives and friends to register a complaint clearly indicating circumstances under which he initially disappeared and resurfaced for better leads to the investigators,” said Enanga.
“It is disheartening to see such photos, and we want to ask all political actors to adopt strategies that are holistic and consistent with mature politics,” he emphasised.
Enanga said police’s cybercrime unit will track down the perpetrators who uploaded and circulate the fake photo on social media for prosecution.