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Red Pepper journalists send a humble plea following government clamp down

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The government arrested 8 directors and journalists of The Pepper Publications Limited a fortnight ago. Police raided the publication’s premise in Mukono District.

The raid followed a story by Red Pepper newspaper that claimed Museveni was planning to overthrow the government of president Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

The directors arrested during the raid at Red Pepper headquarters include; Richard Tusiime (CEO), Patrick Mugumya (Chief Production Officer), Arinaitwe Rugyendo (Chief Marketing Officer), James Mujuni (Chief Commercial Officer) and Johnson Musinguzi Byarabaha (Chief Financial Officer).

The three editors arrested include; Ben Byarabaha (Managing Editor), Richard Kintu (News Editor) and Tumusiime Francis Tinywana (Bwino Newspaper Editor who doubles as General Manager).

Red Pepper directors and editors in the dock at Buganda Road Magistrate’s Court last week. Photo/Monitor

The 8 were charged with the use of the electronic system to publish information portrayed president Museveni his brother Gen Salim Saleh and Security Minister Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde as if they are planning to overthrow Rwandan president.

The Red Pepper journalists and directors were also charged with publication of a news story prejudicial to national security and publication of a story that defamed Museveni, his brother and Security Minister.

Journalists attached to The Pepper Publications Limited have now sent a humble plea to the government after the entire media house was shut down.

The journalists appeal to government to reconsider the move to close Red Pepper saying that the action has put them in a state of uncertainty over their jobs.

It still remains unclear whether Red Pepper will be opened in the near future. Journalists fear many of them could lose their sole source of income if the situation remains as it is.

The journalists ask Museveni’s government considers other options of holding Red Pepper accountable other than closing it entirely.

It is not the first time the controversial newspaper is closed. In May 2013 the government closed Red Pepper and Daily Monitor for nearly a month over a document written by General David Sejusa.

Meanwhile US government has expressed its concern over seeming media clampdown in Uganda. US Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert asserted that US government will continue advocating for freedom of expression and of the press.

“We are concerned by recent charges of treason filed against eight Uganda journalists of a local tabloid newspaper. We continue to support freedom of expression and freedom of the press as central elements of U.S. foreign policy,” Heather Nauert tweeted.

 

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