Opposition Ugandan lawmaker and pop singer Bobi Wine has arrived at his home several hours after police took him into custody when he landed at the international airport in Kampala.
Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, was taken from the airport to a police station not far from his home and held about three hours before being taken home.
At his home, the politician gave an impromptu news conference to a house packed with journalists and supporters, surrounded by his children. Social media videos show Wine saying he was glad to be home and that he didn’t know where the police were taking him when they took him from the airport.
A police statement thanked Wine for “cooperating with the police” as it escorted him home. A Ugandan government spokesman told VOA that the tight security around Kampala was because many of Wine’s supporters are violent and the city needed to be protected.
Journalists were not allowed at the airport Thursday with security forces deployed on the streets. On Wednesday, police banned people from gathering at the airport or elsewhere to greet the 36-year-old Wine.
Police denied reports that journalists trying to reach the airport were arrested, although it said some were questioned and are all now free.
International and local media, as well as social media report that Wine’s brothers, members of his band and his manager were arrested before his arrival on a flight from Europe.
Wine had been in the United States for the past few weeks, seeking treatment for injuries he said were from beatings he received after he was arrested August 14. He told journalists Thursday that he was feeling better but still experiencing pain.
Wine has alleged he and others were tortured in custody. He was granted bail and allowed to leave the country for treatment. The government has denied the allegations of torture and mistreatment.
He has long been a critic of President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power more than 30 years. Wine, four other members of parliament and about 30 supporters were arrested last month after a protest broke out during a campaign event for a by-election.
Thursday, Wine said “I am going to fight on and like I said, we must get our freedom, or we shall die trying.”
Museveni, who is 74, remains popular with a large segment of Ugandans, for having brought stability to the country. However, more than 70 percent of the population is under the age of 35 and many of these voters say they want younger leadership.
Wine still faces treason charges for the August arrest and is expected to appear in court by the end of this month. Late Wednesday, his lawyer, Medard Ssegona spoke with VOA’s James Butty, and said they were preparing for the case. “I cannot tell you of the strategies,” he said. “Our preparation will depend on the kind of case they bring. I consider the case politically motivated and it’s trumped up.”