By Elite News Reporter
William Pike, the former Vision Group Managing Director (MD), has been exposed as a spy for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and UK’s MI6, who maneuvered his way into the National Resistance Army (NRA) ranks and later helped the then rebel outfit to harness support from the USA, after portraying them as a revolutionary army fighting to liberate Uganda from dictators.
According to our sources, Pike, a long time media practitioner in Uganda is a spy working with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), a world intelligence gathering body based in Langley, in the United States of America and it was after his exposure that he fled Uganda and relocated to Kenya, where he started up another newspaper.
According to prominent Kenyan lawyer Ahmednassir Abdullahi , the Chief Executive Officer of The Star newspaper, William Pike, who has operated in the East African region for decades and was a reporter during the National Resistance Army (NRA) bush war, is also a spy working for UK’s M16 and his codename is ‘Simba’.
Sources reveal that Ahmednassir must have done his homework on this matter, given the fact that when The Star newspaper exposed the secret, Pike denied the allegations in a paid advert yet by the time he paid for the advert the magazine had not yet hit the streets.
Majority of those who know him especially in Uganda have no doubt that he is a British Spy. William Pike, the co-owner of the Star newspaper, Kiss TV, Kiss FM, Classic FM, and Capital FM of Kampala has ruffled many feathers in Kenya and Uganda; his previous workstation. While some see him as a media business ace others are in haste to pour scorn over his brand of journalism.
Majority of those who know him especially in Uganda have no doubt that he is a British Spy with links to the CIA, where he allegedly does reconnaissance intelligence work. Investigative journalists travelled to Uganda on many occasions to seek answers as to how William Pike found it so easy to conceal his real profession—spying for Her Majesty’s Government and how he managed to fool many in Uganda and in Kenya.
The story begins some 27 years ago when British journalist William Pike received a phone call, which changed his life– forever. Ugandan guerrilla leader, the late Eriya Kategeya (RIP) was offering him a job. Pike recalls: “He was calling me unofficially but if I was interested he would pass my name to the Minister of Information (Abu Mayanja)…”
Pike would later become chief editor of the then 8-page semi-weekly New Vision. He systematically worked it into a profit-making machine, the “best government-owned newspaper in the world” in the words of Ugandan columnist John Nagenda.
“And for the next 20 years, I ran the New Vision. Uganda and Africa became my life,” Pike reminisces. Eriya Kategeya (then Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister/Minister for East African Community) was the man who hooked up William Pike to Yoweri Museveni.
Pike offered tributes in the same New Vision, where he described the late freedom fighter (Kategaya) as a reminder of Uganda’s “hope” of that time.
“He did not sacrifice his principles. He was not a rich man, he did not cheat or backstab. He remained true to the (National Resistance Movement) ideals. He did not betray the revolution,” Pike said of Kategaya
The business of sprucing up NRA’s image, sourcing for funds and guns, Kategeya, then head of the External Wing of the National Resistance Army/Movement (NRA/M) during the war, sourced for funds and guns.
And Pike, then a stringer for BBC, South magazine and the London Observer, was tasked to spruce up the movement’s hitherto atrocious image into a brand acceptable in the requisite western capitals. But did he accomplish this onerous task using ordinary journalistic tools? All evidence points to the contrary.
Those in the know say that at the centre of the Eriya Kategeya—William Pike relationship was the British international spy agency officially known as the Military Intelligence Section 6, but better known by the acronym MI6.
Once William Pike got into the mix of Uganda’s second liberation politics, informed sources say British Intelligence got the fulcrum writer until July 1986 when Museveni tapped him to take charge of the New Vision newspaper, which had been launched in March of the same year.
Minting Millions of Dollars
Pike penned page one stories; editorials apart. On August 5, 1986 he introduced a slogan, ‘For a Better Uganda’ and later replaced it with ‘Uganda’s Leading Daily’. He increased pagination to 16. The paper attracted massive State advertisements and it became full-colour.
By 2005, it had upwards of 64-pages, and was making $2.5 million (KSh310 million) profit on a turnover of $18 million. It was a market leader – with a commanding 60 per cent market control.
Then 244 months after his hiring, he left despite the apparent achievement. It all happened in October 2006 when the President Museveni felt that having a British spy close to him for too long was becoming counterproductive. He also received intelligence that for some time Pike, the obedient spy, had turned rogue and was feeding negative stories to the opposition.
This was vintage Museveni-speak against dissent and criticism of his leadership style. Yet their split, though innocuous was but far-reaching. The President declined to grant Pike the ceremonial “bye” when he left office in October 2006, according to sources in Kampala. Weeks before the fall-out, Museveni blocked the editor’s access to State House. They no longer treated themselves to their traditional bi-weekly meetings and regular phone calls.
“Museveni felt it was time for change,” Pike recalls “I was at New Vision for 21 years; which was the central event of my life. The owner (read the Government of Uganda or more specifically President Museveni) thought that maybe someone else could do the job better. He thought (the paper) had become too negative about Uganda.” Pike recalls.
He would later join Ghanaian businessman, Patrick Quarcoo, to found The Star (initially Nairobi Star), which is Kenya’s third largest English newspaper. This tabloid daily has been hard-hitting, its page-one off-beats sourced from the “Intelligence”, especially when the International Criminal Court was investigating crimes in Kenya. Its editorial content and tone have drawn fury from the powers that be, leading to running battles in the courts.
From the moment he left Uganda, it is said some of Pike’s former allies at Nakasero State House, quickly revealed the worst kept secret in Uganda, that Pike was a veteran MI6 agent. Some people were convinced he was part of a team of Britons who covertly directed Uganda’s political and economic discourse in the interest of the West.
Being Cut Loose, Hang And Left To Dry
According to sources, immediately he was discharged in October 2006, Nakasero State House started sending signals to the effect that Pike had all along been an MI6 spy, in the mould of Kim Philby, Edward Crankshaw and David Astor, former employees of the London newspaper Pike freelanced for in the 1980s; the Observer.
However, Pike discounts any suggestion that he passed on any intelligence to or from the NRA. His word could be true. But it is instructional to note that MI6 and the Israeli Mossad were all along opposed to Obote, according to Godfrey Mwakikagile, author of Obote to Museveni: Political Transformation in Uganda since Independence.
It was M16 and Mossad who used their trainee, Idi Amin, to remove Obote in early 1970s. And they were behind his second downfall.
“The NRA knew the capability of the Ugandan forces under the command of Tito and Basilio. So how had this intelligence been passed on to the rebels?” An Opposition leader questions, adding “William Pike of course.”
Among those who publicly questioned Pike’s profession– though avoided the MI6 theory – was Frank Mwine, Uganda Commercial Bank’s former chief executive who once sued the New Vision for libel and was awarded Shs10million. In a letter to the same newspaper, he described Pike’s brand of journalism as “shallow and negative”.
Elsewhere, the Rwanda Democratic Alliance (Alliance Démocratique Rwandaise), a political outfit in exile, is convinced Pike was a spy for the British. In a winded statement, The Truth behind the Rwanda Tragedy, presented to the UN Tribunal on Rwanda, Remigius Kintu says “Pike suspected of having more connections than a telephone line and with tendencies of a mercenary. He successfully used his journalistic skill to fabricate favorable reports for the NRA, galvanizing tremendous sympathy for Museveni and his men.”
According to Kintu, who is the author of the 387-page Africa My Beloved: A Liberation Plan for a Free & Sovereign Continent, Pike was NRM’s hatchet man who used his position to fabricate stories favourable to the NRA/M, effectively turning the New Vision into the PRAVDA, the extremist publication of the dreaded (since deceased) communist Soviet Union.
Also weighing in is Ugandan civil rights activist Eric Kashambuzi, who alleges that Pike was part of a team of British expats (including Lynda Chalker and Paul Collier) Museveni surrounded himself with, and which drove Uganda’s agenda in the late 1980s through to the 1990s.
In rather a long piece, “How Museveni sold Uganda to UK in exchange for protection”, Kashambuzi says, “financial support was provided by foreigners including Qaddafi, Rowland and Abiola. Media was coordinated by William Pike and the political cover was led by Lynda Chalker, who was the first foreign dignitary to meet with Museveni as president of Uganda.” Collier was an adviser in charge of economic matters.
Other sources say that Mark Too, then the Lonrho EA boss, acted as the intermediary between Tiny Rowland and the NRA in the final days of the rebellion. (This writer sought an interview with Too on four occasions but the politician failed to call back as promised.)
Smoothening the way for Museveni with the UK establishment and US Congress “Pike was more than just a freelance journalist. The NRM machine had the US Congress and the Anglo Saxon media against Obote. Museveni had to discredit Obote. The M16 quietly helped him through the backdoor.
Kategeya made the contact, Pike then appeared on the scene,” according to a top Ugandan media practitioner.
“It is true”, the Uganda Conservative Party president, Ken Lukyamuzi, says about Pike’s role in directing Uganda’s post-conflict political course.
“In doing so, he would create harmony between the Uganda government and its UK investors. It was two-fold: political harmony and diplomatic harmony. He was good at public relations thus ensured good relations between Chalker and Museveni,” Lukyamuzi noted.
What about the spy allegations? “It’s possible (that he was an MI6 agent)”, says Lukyamuzi. “In a great way he assisted the NRM in the bush. In fact, they (guerrillas) engaged somebody they knew very well. He never revealed extra-judicial killings yet he knew a lot about what was happening in the bush.”
Ikebesi Omoding, one of reputed Ugandan journalists who started off with Pike at the newspaper in 1986 observes, thus “There were reports he was a spy; I really don’t know. All I know is that he collected a lot of information which he said would go into a book he said he was writing.”
Pike’s manuscript, Dormant: Among the Guerrillas, was forwarded to reputable international publisher, Penguin Books, but never released. The spy stigma has refused to go away. Is journalism a mere subplot in Pike’s sojourn in Uganda?
“Am I an agent of the MI6? Honestly not. You get it a lot when you are a foreign journalist working in Africa” Pike defends himself.
But why do the likes of Kintu and Kashambuzi see Pike as a Secret agent, part of a team Linda Chalker’s Foreign Office handed over to Museveni to push British agenda? Pike stammered and failed to answer straight questions on his spying credentials.
Of Wikileaks cables, US Embassy and William Pike
Two happenings, a decade apart, appear to play into the hands of cynics – leaving them convinced the West had an interest in Pike’s Uganda sojourn.
One, a Wikileaks cable filed by America’s Embassy in London, January 1986 in which the Americans appear concerned that Congolese forces are buttressing Idi Amin’s remnant troops to attack northwestern Uganda.
The Americans, having failed to confirm with FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) contacts, seek Pike’s advice. He confirms, his recollections based on conservations with his NRA friends. At the time he was the South magazine correspondent. He told the Americans that the Amin/Mobutu Sese Seko cooperation was “designed to forestall NRA moves against Kampala”.
Then there was this motion in the House of Commons, tabled October 25, 2006. It debated Pike’s exit vis-à-vis Press freedom in Uganda. It noted “with concern reports indicating that the long-serving Managing Editor of the Ugandan government-owned New Vision publication, Mr William Pike, a British national, had been sacked; is concerned that Mr Pike may have been sacked because he opposed the fraudulent 2005 constitutional amendment which opened the door for Yoweri Museveni to become a life President and for giving some favourable coverage to the main opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye”.
Why was the British House of Commons so concerned about the firing just a single journalist in some remote third world country to the extent of debating the matter in parliament? Was this an indication that Pike was not just a ‘mere journalist? Probably so.
Pike concedes that he once briefed British authorities about the Uganda war. “Museveni asked me to go to the British Foreign Office to brief them (that he was going to win).
In our next intelligence briefing, find out what specific missions William Pike did for his bosses? Why was he sacked even when the New Vision newspaper was declaring nine digit profits and its market control soaring? Is Pike among the wealthiest in Uganda, if so, how did he acquire that wealth?
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