Security agencies in Uganda have arrested a prominent human rights lawyer over alleged money laundering.
Nicholas Opiyo, known for representing LGBTQ+ people, was arrested in a restaurant in the capital, Kampala, on Tuesday by plainclothes security and financial intelligence officers.
Opiyo, executive director of rights organisation Chapter Four Uganda, was seized along with three other lawyers – Herbert Dakasi, Anthony Odur and Esomu Obure – and Hamid Tenywa, human rights officer of Bobi Wine’s opposition party, National Unity Platform (NUP).
Ugandan police tweeted that Opiyo had been arrested on allegations of money laundering and “related malicious acts”.
“The investigations are progressing well and any new developments will be communicated in due course. He remains in our custody at the special investigations division,” the tweet said.
Opiyo’s arrest comes barely a week after he represented two NGOs – Uganda National NGO Forum and the Uganda Women’s Network – whose accounts were frozen by security forces over terrorism allegations.
Opiyo, 2015 recipient of the Alison Des Forges award for extraordinary activism, has worked tirelessly since 2005 to defend civil liberties in Uganda, often for free and on behalf of society’s most vulnerable and marginalised.
He has faced verbal attacks and even death threats for defending LGBTQ+ rights in Uganda.