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Ugandan pop star-turned-MP Bobi Wine arrives in the US after his arrest in his home country

Posted at 2:01 AM, Sep 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-02 04:01:18-04

Ugandan youth movement leader Bobi Wine has arrived in the United States for medical treatment after being blocked from travel earlier in the week by Ugandan police, the pop star-turned-MP confirmed in a tweet Saturday.

Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, posted a photo of himself at an airport on Twitter and Facebook. In the photo, he is seated in a wheelchair.

An attorney for Wine, Robert Amsterdam, told CNN that Wine arrived in Boston, and will later travel to Washington.

Wine had attempted to travel to the US on Thursday but was prevented from boarding his flight and was taken away in a police vehicle to a government-owned hospital in the capital of Kampala with limited access to his family, one of his attorneys, Erias Lukwago, told CNN.

In his tweet, Wine wrote: “Safely arrived in the US where I’ll be receiving specialised treatment following the brutal torture at the hands of SFC soldiers. We thank the world for standing with us. I will soon tell you what exactly happened to me since 13th August and what is next.”

Wine is the leader of a youth movement that has challenged the regime of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

He was first arrested by the military on August 15 after rioting broke out between rival parties ahead of a local parliamentary election. Wine has been charged with treason for allegedly trying to stone Museveni’s convoy. Another 32 opposition politicians have also been charged. He was freed on bail August 27.

His legal team says he suffered multiple fractures and injuries while detained following the arrest.

Museveni has dismissed allegations that Wine and the other arrested opposition politicians were tortured. CNN has also reached out to Uganda’s Special Forces Command mentioned in Wine’s Twitter post.

Medical check

On Thursday, Wine’s attorney Nicholas Opiyo tweeted that Wine had been “violently arrested” and “bundled into a police ambulance” as he was on his way out of the country to seek medical treatment in the United States.

Another of his attorneys alleged that Uganda’s special forces tortured the MP in the ambulance that took him to the hospital, while a doctor watched. Police also prevented MP Francis Zaake from leaving Uganda on Thursday, saying he was a suspect in a criminal case.

In a statement issued Friday, Uganda’s Police Force said it had to prevent Wine from traveling in order to give him a medical checkup to investigate allegations that he was tortured.

Deputy spokesperson of the Uganda Police Force Patrick Onyango denied that Wine and the other MPs were tortured in custody and accused them of attempting to flee the country.

Wine was allowed to leave the medical facility because he underwent a medical examination, the statement said.

Rioting on the streets

Wine’s youth movement has rattled the Museveni regime.

Pockets of protests broke out in Kampala on Friday as angry youths took to the streets to protest the Wine’s arrest.

Police and soldiers moved through the city, particularly downtown Kamwokya, where Wine’s studio is located, to quell demonstrations by his supporters, who had blocked roads in the neighborhood with rocks and tires.

Musicians around the world, including Chris Martin, Angelique Kidjo and Damon Albarn, joined the campaign to #FreeBobiWine.