CANBERRA – The Rwanda government is again in the spotlight over spying on its nationals in diaspora after an investigation in Australia indicated that some men, ostensibly working for the government in Kigali, were threatening lives of refugees there.
According to the Telegraph, a UK newspaper, the Australia Broadcasting Corpropation (ABC) uncovered a covert recording of an alleged Rwandan spy filmed in a carpark in Queensland, detailing how the Rwandan government runs secret missions from its embassies and high commissions.
According to the Telegraph, Mubarak Kalisa, a Rwandan refugee, who is a government critic told ABC that he had been threatened by the spy upon his arrival in Australia.
Kalisa alleged that in South Africa he had been contacted by Rwandan embassy officials who wanted to enlist him to kill his friend, and when he relocated to Australia he received death threats. “We’re after you, you will find yourself lying in a pool of your own blood. If we don’t find you, we’ll find your wife or your kids,” read one of the threats he says he was sent by text.
The man further claimed that spies were planted in the country on student visas, as these were easier to obtain.
The refugee is then said to have reported to Queensland police, which urged him to stay out of South Brisbane, where they believed Rwandan operatives worked.
The Australian government advisor on African-Australian relations, Dr Nadine Shema, is quoted as expressed concern the rising threat of intimidation of Rwandan dissenters by their government spies back home.
ABC also found evidence that then foreign-minister Julie Bishop had been warned in 2017 that the Rwandan High Commissioner to Singapore had threatened to kill a Rwanda-born resident of New South Wales.
An Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) spokesperson said foreign interference and espionage was happening at an “unprecedented scale” but refused to detail tactics used to recruit refugees and migrants.
“The security threat comes from the actions and intent of the small number of individuals who seek to do Australia harm,” the spokesperson said.
However, Olivier Nduhungirehe of Rwanda’s foreign affairs ministry denied the allegations. “We don’t have time to comment on everything reported in the media,” he said.
Rwanda’s government has previously denied accusations it had a hand in the murder of Patrick Karegeya, a former military intelligence chief who fled to South Africa.
It has also denied being behind the 2010 shooting of former Army Chief, Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, in South Africa.