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Exiled journalist gets 30-month prison sentence

(RSF/IFEX) - On 3 June 2011, Reporters Without Borders condemned the Rwandan supreme court's sentencing of prominent exiled independent journalist Jean Bosco Gasasira to two and a half years in prison for allegedly calling for civil disobedience and insulting President Paul Kagame in the online version of his newspaper http://www.Umuvugizi.com .

Gasasira told Reporters Without Borders that the week-long postponement of the hearing until 3 June was probably intended to give the court time to find more convincing evidence against him. He has no right of appeal against the sentence. A charge of deliberately breaking the press law was dropped.

He said he would not be intimidated by the court's ruling. "The government wants to mess up my life and stop me from working, but the ruling is a desperate move by longtime predators of the media." He would risk arrest if he returned to Rwanda.

Gasasira has been threatened many times, beaten up in 2007, censored and hunted inside the country. He said his paper's website has been hacked into in recent days and a bogus version, probably put together by government supporters, has appeared ( http://umuvugizi.wordpress.com/ ). Gasasira says this allows the government to see who reads the paper online and to post false news.

Media freedom in Rwanda is extremely fragile and the government is trying to snuff out free and independent media outlets. President Kagame is on the annual Reporters Without Borders worldwide list of predators of press freedom.
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