Ugandan police arrested a team of BBC journalists for illegal possession of prescription drugs but a government spokesman said the reporters were helping expose corruption and demanded their immediate release.
Patrick Onyango, Uganda’s police spokesman, said five suspects were detained overnight. They included two Ugandans and a Kenyan working for the British broadcaster, as well as the wife of a local journalist from NBS Television working with them and a driver.
Fourteen boxes of tablets were seized, along with vaccines.
Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said the journalists were co-operating with the State House Health Monitoring Unit to investigate theft and sale of Ugandan government drugs in neighbouring South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.
“I am yet to find the logic why police arrested the journalists who, in my view, were helping government unearth the rot in the system,” said Opondo. “They should be released unconditionally.”
The BBC said it was in contact with the authorities over the case.
Uganda’s decrepit healthcare system is riddled with corruption and doctors and nurses frequently complain about shortages of basic supplies like gloves, medicines and vaccines.
Opondo said police told him the journalists were “intending to embarrass government”. He said this as a reason for their arrest would be “absurd.”