Museveni ‘pardons’ Red Pepper editors

Red Pepper editors in court earlier

President Yoweri Museveni has reportedly ‘pardoned’ the directors and editors of The Red Pepper, currently charged with libel, computer misuse and publication of a story prejudicial to national security.

According to a tweet from Red Pepper, following yesterday’s meeting at State House Entebbe, Museveni "pardoned the company directors & its senior editors and promised to immediately order the police to vacate” the company’s office.

Red Pepper offices in Namanve along Jinja road have been a crime scene since November 21, 2017 when the founding directors of Pepper Publications; Arinaitwe Rugyendo, Patrick Mugumya, Johnson Musinguzi, Richard Tusiime and James Mujuni, and editors are Ben Byarabaha, Richard Kintu and Tumusiime Francis got arrested.

They were arrested over a November 20 story that indicated that President Museveni was plotting to overthrow his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame. 

They were arraigned before Buganda Road Court on November 27 and remanded to Luzira prison after a week in detention at Nalufenya police station in Jinja and granted bail after a month in detention.

Last week, the state applied and was granted at least one more month to continue analysing the exhibits confiscated from Red Pepper offices in November. Among the exhibits are computers, staff phones, printers among others.

They also wanted more time to collect more evidence to pin the eight suspects. Museveni ordered security operatives to return the confiscated equipment and also give each of the suspects a revised edition of his autobiography, Sowing the Mustard Seed and a booklet containing a lecture he gave during the marking of Nelson Mandela's Day at Makerere University last year, to sharpen their ideological awareness

Inside sources say, the decision to reopen Red Pepper offices however has come with tough conditions for the media house. The company has reportedly been told to heavily tone down on its political coverage, our sources claim and any slight deviation, will lead to an immediate closure.

It is not immediately clear what will happen to the trial proceedings now that Museveni has pardoned the accused.

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd