President Kagame Denies Spying on Opponents Abroad
On 15th October, Rwanda deported American evangelical Pastor, Gregg Schoof, accusing him of broadcasting hateful sermons that called women “evil creatures” through his evangelical church's radio programme. After the said sermons, Schoof was arrested for “illegally meeting with journalists in a public space” after he tried to hold a press conference to criticise the Rwandan government's decision to shut down his controversial evangelical radio station. He was deported a few hours later together with his family.
Many Rwandans lauded the move by government, denouncing what they considered as hate speech by Schoof, while his supporters criticised the action by government as a crackdown related to a culture clash between Pentecostal communities and the Kagame administration, which has been inclined toward a more secular stance.
In November 2019, Rwandan President Paul Kagame hit back at allegations that he spied on opponents through their phones, saying thetechnology needed to do so was too expensive. This came after a recent investigative report by the Financial Times revealed massive hacking and surveillance by governments such as Rwanda, especially targeting journalists, human rights activists, lawyers, political opposition members and other dissidents. The report also revealed that of the individuals identified as having been targeted, a substantial number were from Rwanda.
In October 2019, Faustin Rukundo, an outspoken critic of the Rwandan regime who lives in exile in Leeds, said he and fellow members of the Rwanda National Congress - a group opposing the Rwandan government - were targeted via the messaging service WhatsApp. As reported previously on the Monitor, Australia's national broadcaster reported that a network of alleged Rwandan spies has been working to suppress dissident refugees in the country, with expat and refugee Rwandans saying that silencing critics and suppressing support for opposition parties in exile are among the top priorities of the Rwandan Government.