A student at Harvard University filed a lawsuit against Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni for blocking him on Twitter.
Hillary Sseguya, who is pursuing a master’s degree in International Relations at the US based-institution said the blocking violated his right to access information about his country. Two public officials were also named in the suit.
The student argued that being blocked had prevented him from giving feedback to the officials account about government policies on Twitter.
“The President’s tweet has first-hand information about the country, and as a Ugandan living in the Diaspora, I am missing out on that information which is imperative to me. His actions have violated my right of freedom of speech, and he must unblock me,” Sseguya told CNN.
Presidential media aide Don Wanyama told CNN the issue was already in court and declined to comment any further.
“We don’t respond to matters in court. It’s subjudice. We will respond in court if we have to,” Wanyama said.
Ugandan government spokesman Ofwono Opondo named in the suit said he blocked the student because he found his tweets offensive.
“Yes I realized I blocked him (Sseguya) for offensive communication, I block whoever directs offensive communication to me personally, and I have no apologies,” Opondo said. He added the student could access government-related information on the internet without having to depend on Twitter posts.
Sseguya told CNN he may have been blocked because of a post he shared in April where he called Museveni a dictator and asked the Ghanaian president Nana Akufo-Addo to replace him.
“I wish we could exchange you for our Ugandan president dictator, General Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who has been for 33 years,” Seguya said in a video during Akufo-Addo visit to Harvard University earlier this year.
There are ongoing conversations and debates about whether elected officials can block individual accounts on the social media platform.
In July, a US court stopped President Donald Trump from blocking Twitter users following a challenge brought forward by seven individuals. A similar suit has been filed against Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Sseguya wants the legal challenge to set a precedent in Uganda.
“But why would a public official block someone for their opposing view? With this, public servants will see that the people they lead can make them accountable,” the student said.