With rumours of hacking attempts, surveillance and intimidation, the Rwandan government has been accused of putting pressure on opponents and journalists established in Belgium, Le Soir and De Morgen reported on Friday.
Belgian National security “confirms Rwandan intelligence services are actively engaged in Belgium attempting to weaken what is perceived as a political threat from the opposition” to Paul Kagame’s regime, the justice minister revealed officially last month.
Peter Verlinden, a former VRT journalist, and his Rwandan wife Marie Bamutese have been used as an example of the victims of such practices, Belga reports. The couple says they have been threatened since 2015, following the publication of their book concerning violence in eastern Congo.
From “reliable sources”, Verlinden reported that a new diplomat at the Rwandan embassy in Belgium received “a mission and a budget” for a very precise purpose: conducting investigations into him and his wife. An investigation has been opened by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office.
An investigation has also been launched into the suspicious deaths of two people from Bruges in South Africa in 2018.
Thomas Ngeze (27) – the son of a Rwandan journalist sentenced for “complicity in Rwandan genocide” by the International Criminal Tribunal – was found hanged in his hotel room in Johannesburg. After looking into this death, Ngeze’s friend Pieter-Jan Staelens (35) also died in a car fire in South Africa.
Collaboration between the Belgian and South African courts, however, is not always good, writes Le Soir.
After accumulating evidence on the questionable practices of Kigali, Ecolo-Groen MP Samuel Cogolati has said that he intends to question Foreign Minister Didier Reynders (MR) shortly on the issue.