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Yes, Harvard student is suing Ugandan president Museveni, but for less than reported

An article published by Kenyan news site Tuko and shared on their Facebook page claims that a “Harvard student wants KSh247 million for being blocked by President Museveni on Twitter”.

According to the 29 February 2020 article, Hillary Innocent Taylor Seguya, a Ugandan studying for a master’s degree at Harvard University in the US, is suing Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni for blocking him on social media platform Twitter

(Note: The student is usually called “Hillary Innocent Seguya Taylor” in the media. He calls himself “Hillary Innocent Taylor Seguya” on his blog, and we have done the same.)

Seguya claims “he suffered mental anguish to which he seeks general damages for being inconvenienced”, says the Tuko article.  

The article was flagged as potentially false by Facebook’s fact-checking system. We investigated. 

Widely reported in mainstream media

This story was widely reported in the media, within Uganda, in Africa, and internationally, in August 2019. 

According to the reports, Seguya, who lives in the US, alleges that he was blocked by Museveni or his aides in July 2019, after referring to Museveni as a “dictator” on Twitter. 

Seguya corroborates details

On 26 August 2019, Seguya tweeted that he had “filed a lawsuit” against Museveni, the Ugandan government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo P'Odel, and Asan Kasingye, spokesperson for the Ugandan police. He said the three were “illegally blocking me from their handles”. 

Seguya tweeted that he had filed the case at Uganda’s high court

On 3 March 2020 Seguya posted videos of himself being interviewed by journalist Eddy Micah for Deutsche Welle, a German news organisation which broadcasts internationally. 

Seguya also spoke to Africa Check directly. He said: “I asked the court to award me damages of USh6 billion for costs and mental anguish. Converted to US dollars, I want the equivalent of $1.7 million.”

Seguya is suing the Ugandan president in the local currency, the Ugandan shilling. In Kenyan shillings, this is approximately KSh170 million, not the KSh247 million reported by Tuko. But the rest of the details in the article are correct. – Grace Gichuhi


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