Security forces have arrested a United States citizen for alleged subversion.
Mr Guy Smith, an American living in Fort Portal City in Kabarole District, was arrested on Sunday night by security officers moving in three numberless vehicles which included a ‘drone’, a type of van that has notoriously been known for being used in abductions.
Mr Smith is married to a Ugandan, and the couple have two children.
Residents said Mr Smith was arrested at about 3.30am at his home in Kitebutura Village in Kitumba, Central Division.
His wife, Ms Sharon Tusiime, said Mr Smith,63, is from Kentucky, USA, and has lived in Uganda for about 20 years.
The security operatives reportedly confiscated his phone, camera and laptop after breaking into his car which was parked in the compound before they broke into his house.
Mr Vincent Twesige, the regional police spokesperson for Rwenzori West, confirmed the arrest but declined to comment further following a tweet by Mr Fred Enanga, the police spokesperson, on the matter.
“A task team from the Special Investigations Division [SID] arrested Guy Smith, an American national, on the 21.03.2021, from Fort Portal for his alleged involvement in anti-government subversive activities. He remains in custody at SID, Kireka, as inquiries continue. Any new information will be communicated accordingly, ” Mr Enanga tweeted on Monday.
Efforts to get a comment from him were futile as he did not pick our calls .
Residents and local leaders castigated government for the manner in which the security operatives arrested the American.
“We thought they were robbers and we alerted neighbours and our home guard. There could have been a fire exchange but God helped [us], this did not happen. Why take him at 3:30am when the resident has always been here day and night?,” Mr Robert Aliganyira Kifumu, a local leader, said.
“I called the DPC [district police commander] he was not aware. We are so frightened by the abduction of our resident. His house was left open as his wife was away,” he added.
Another resident, Ms Carol Natukunda, described the incident as scaring and strange.
“We heard noise and bangs at our American neighbour’s house. When we came, armed men chased us away,” she said.
Ms Tusiime said she was away in Mbarara with the children when the incident happened. “My husband told me what happened. I came on Sunday morning and found the house open and everything in the house was searched. He is the only breadwinner of our family. I called police and the DPC came and assured me that my husband is in safe hands of government, but why take him like a thief at night?” she asked.
“I alerted the US Embassy in Kampala who are following the matter. They have called me saying that today (yesterday) they visited him at Kireka, he is fine, but since Sunday, I have failed to talk to my husband,” Ms Tusiime added.
Efforts to get a comment from the US Embassy in Kampala were futile as our calls went unanswered.
The contact number for an embassy official that Ms Tusiime had given us was not picked either.
The US embassy liaison officer in Fort Portal , Mr Scott Cash Jeffrey, said he was aware of the arrest but referred us back to the US Embassy in Kampala.
There has been several incidents of unfriendly gestures between Uganda and US in recent months. On February 18, security forces blocked US Ambassador Natalie Brown from visiting National Unity Platform leader Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine who had been placed under effective house arrest. Mr Ofwono Opondo, the government spokesperson, said the ambassador was trying to meddle in Uganda’s internal politics, particularly elections.