Red Pepper editors slapped with treason charges over Rwanda story

Five directors and three editors of The Red Pepper are charged with treason, offensive communication and disturbing the peace of President Yoweri Museveni, Security Minister Henry Tumukunde and Gen. Salim Saleh.

Those facing charges include directors, Arinaitwe Rugyendo, Patrick Mugumya, Johnson Musinguzi, Richard Tusiime and James Mujuni and editors Ben Byarabaha, Richard Kintu and Francis Tumusiime. They are all detained at Nalufenya Prison in Jinja District.

The group was arrested on Tuesday evening following the publication of a story published on November 20, headlined; "M7 plotting to overthrow Kagame - Rwanda."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs later swiftly dismissed the story as a reproduction of a malicious article by a Rwandan online publication "Rushyashya" of an alleged plan by the Ugandan Government to overthrow the Rwanda Government.

The Ministry Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Patrick Mugoya, said the two countries are currently enjoying strong and cordial relations. He described the publications as "mischievous at best, irresponsible at worst and meant to sow discord between our two nations."

Dickens Byamukama, one of the company lawyers told Uganda Radio Network that the directors were brought back to Namanve yesterday where a charge and caution statement was read for them.

In a charge and caution statement, a detective reads to the suspect the charges they intend to prefer, the suspects are asked whether he accepts the statement or not. It also means that the detectives have made up their minds to charge the suspects with the offences disclosed in the investigations.

"According to the charge and caution statement read to them, they will be charged with offensive communication, disturbing the peace of president Museveni, Salim Saleh and Security Minister Henry Tumukunde. The main charge preferred against them is treason," Byamukama said.

The Director of Public Prosecutions will, however, have a final say on the charges that the journalists face. After investigations, detectives will submit their files to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

When asked why police included disturbing peace of President Museveni on the caution and charge statement, Police Spokesperson, Emilian Kayima said; "I have not looked at the charge and caution statement. I don't want to speculate."

Byamukama says after yesterday's search the directors were taken back to Nalufenya. He says police promised to return them today as the search continues. Byamukama says if directors and editors are not released today, they will petition the court to secure their release.



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