Five directors and three editors of the Pepper Publications Group have been charged with treason, offensive communication and disturbing the peace of President Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s Security Minister Henry Tumukunde and Gen Salim Saleh.
Those facing charges include directors Arinaitwe Rugyendo (CMO), Patrick Mugumya (COO), Johnson Musinguzi (CFO), Richard Tusiime (CEO) and James Mujuni (CCO), and editors Ben Byarabaha (managing editor), Richard Kintu (news editor) and Francis Tumusiime (also news editor).
They are all detained at Nalufenya Prison in Jinja District.
The group was arrested on Tuesday evening following the publication of a story titled “M7 plotting to overthrow Kagame – Rwanda” on November 20, 2017.
Mr Dickens Byamukama, one of the company’s lawyers said that the directors were brought back to Namanve on Wednesday where a charge and caution statement was read to them.
In a charge and caution statement, a detective reads to the suspect the charges they intend to prefer, the suspect is 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.
However, the Director of Public Prosecutions will have a final say on the charges that the journalists face after the submission of files by detectives.
"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.
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."
Mr Byamukama says after Wednesday's search, the directors were taken back to Nalufenya.
He adds that they were brought back to their head offices in Namanve as the search continues.
According to section 37 (1) of the Penal Code Act (Cap 120), a person who publishes or causes to be published in a book, newspaper, magazine, article or any other printed matter, information regarding military operations, strategies, troop location or movement, location of military supplies or equipment of the armed forces or of the enemy, which publication is likely to — (a) endanger the safety of any military installations, equipment or supplies or of the members of the armed forces of Uganda; (b) assist the enemy in its operations; or (c) disrupt public order and security, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years.