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US Condemns Detention of Red Pepper Bosses

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The US has added its voice to the series of condemnations against the detention of  Red Pepper Publications directors and editors.

On Monday, a court in Kampala sent eight Red Pepper directors and editors to Luzira prison over a story on Rwanda-Uganda relations.

GENESIS OF RED PEPPER WOES

According to the story published at the start of last week, Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni was plotting to overthrow Rwanda’s Kagame.

Kampala denies the claims.

The eight appeared  Monday before Buganda Road Chief Magistrates Court a week after their arrest and detention.

Red Pepper bosses were arrested last Tuesday and their offices put under lock and key.

Police detained them at Nalufenya in Jinja.

The eight are:

Directors: Arinaitwe Rugyendo, James Mujuni, Johnson Byarabaha, Patrick Mugumya and Richard Tusiime;

Editors: Ben Byarabaha, Richard Kintu and Francis Tumusiime

CHARGES AGAINST RED PEPPER DIRECTORS AND EDITORS

Court has charged them with seven counts as read to them by Chief Magistrate Ereemye Mawanda:

OFFENSIVE COMMUNICATION

  • Disturbing the peace, quiet and right of privacy of President Museveni, Gen Henry Tumukunde and Gen Salim Saleh.

LIBEL

  • injuring the reputation of Museveni, his broth Gen Salim Saleh and security minister Henry Tumukunde
  • And subjecting them to hatred, contempt and ridicule.

PUBLICATION OF INFORMATION PREJUDICIAL TO SECURITY 

  • running a headline story regarding military operations, strategies and troop locations, which publication  is likely to disrupt public order and security.

RED PEPPER TREASON CHARGES DROPPED

Court has however dropped treason charges against Red Pepper staff.

Last week’s Charge and Caution Statements had included treason charges.

NO BAIL FOR RED PEPPER BOSSES

Buganda Road Court Chief Magistrate James Ereemye Mawanda has remanded the eight to Luzira Prison.

The directors and editors will be jailed at Luzira until December 5, 2017.

Court denied their lawyers’ plea bail.

Max Mutabingwa and Kandeebe Ntambirwaki are representing the publication’s bosses.

ENTER US MISSION’S MALAC

US ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac has condemned the arrests and detention, calling on Kampala to respect media freedoms.

“Uganda’s Constitution guarantees freedom of the press and freedom of expression,” she said.

“We call on the Government of Uganda to safeguard these fundamental freedoms.”

CPJ ON RED PEPPER CASE

Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has also condemned the arrest and detention of Red Pepper bosses, and closure of the tabloid’s offices.

“Uganda is trying to intimidate Red Pepper journalists and staff into silence with arrests and raids,” said CPJ Africa program coordinator, Angela Quintal from New York.

“Reporting on politics is not a crime. Journalists in Uganda must be able to report without fear of retaliation. We call on the Ugandan authorities to immediately release the Red Pepper editors and managers.”

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