National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine’s ally and international lawyer Robert Amsterdam has written to US Congress demanding sanctions against Kampala over the arrest of human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo.
A joint security taskforce and the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) arrested Opiyo from Lamaro Restaurant in Kamwokya, Kampala on December 22.
Opiyo faces money laundering charges.
He was arrested alongside three other lawyers: Anthony Odur, Herbert Dakasi and Esomi Obure.
Amsterdam has now written a letter titled ‘Urgent Appeal for Action on Uganda’ to House foreign affairs committed chairman Eliot Engel, another well-known Bobi Wine backer, and committee member Michael McCaul.
In the December 22 letter, Amsterdam describes the manner in which Opiyo was arrested as “thuggish scare tactics” and the money laundering charges as “trumped up.”
The lawyer doesn’t offer evidence to prove these claims.
He further alleges the charges are aimed at “discouraging the investigation being led by these lawyers into the killings of protesters.”
It is not clear if Opiyo and his team were indeed investigating the riot killings or if Amsterdam and Bobi Wine are using the protest deaths to seek international attention and support among Ugandan voters about three weeks to the 2021 presidential election.
Ugandan security agencies and government claimed the protests were planned and not spontaneous.
Members of Bobi Wine’s NUP and People Power pressure group have been said to run a social media campaign threatening to burn down Kampala city if Bobi Wine is not declared winner, police claimed.
Despite media attention on his candidature, Bobi Wine may not have the support his campaign and international lobbyists and media claim he has, his opponents especially those in government argue.
Amsterdam doesn’t address claims of responsibility for the protests.
Besides calling Museveni and his government names, Amsterdam emphasizes his push for sanctions against security commanders and government officials.
Kampala has already responded to a letter Engel wrote by secretary not State Mike Pompeo and his treasury counterpart Steven Mnuchin.