KIGALI — Dr. Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has dismissed the hacking of Uganda’s high ranking officials’ mobile phones as “false accusations.”
Dr. Biruta also denied Rwanda does not use or have access to Pegasus— vehemently dismissing conducting any espionage activities on Ugandan security establishment and other high ranking officials close to President Museveni.
Biruta was reacting to fresh allegations of espionage activities by Kigali administration on Kampala after Rwanda came under intense fire with fresh evidence pinning President Paul Kagame-led country employing Israeli sophisticated software Pegasus to spy on high-ranking political figures and diplomats in Uganda, according to an investigation by The Washington Post, The Guardian, Le Monde and other outlets, based on a leaked list of 50,000 phone numbers.
Numbers of Uganda officials including former Chief of Defence Forces Gen David Muhoozi, former Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa and former Premier Dr Ruhakana Rugunda appeared on the leaked records, “indicating that they were potential targets of the software”, the inquiry said.
Also targeted was External security boss, Joseph Ochwet, and National Unity Platform’s Fred Nyanzi Ssentamu, a brother to former presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine.
The quantity and nature of the hacked conversations of top Ugandan officials remains unclear.
Defence spokesperson Brig Flavia Byekwaso said security would make an official statement after reading the report.
The earlier tension between the two neighbouring countries was defused following a meeting between President Museveni and his Rwanda counterpart Paul Kagame in 2019.
However, reliable sources say that following the meeting, diplomatic relations worsened since the two countries reneged on their earlier commitments as arrests and deportation of Rwandans by Uganda have increased ever since.
Since March, Ugandan authorities, especially in the border districts of Kabale, Kisoro and Kagadi have arrested several Rwandan nationals and deported them back to Rwanda.
Rwanda also accuses Uganda immigration officials of confiscating identity cards of Rwandese travelling to Uganda.
Kigali accuses Kampala of backing Rwandan dissidents seeking to destabilise Rwanda while Uganda, on the other hand, intensified its crackdown on Rwandans it says are on espionage missions in Uganda.