JINJA– Police detectives on Thursday night demanded that three of the eight Red Pepper senior editors under detention surrender their phone and computer passwords.
Sources close to the incarcerated editors told this website that the detectives sought induce three key editors to surrender their passwords at 3 3.AM, but the editors rejected the advances saying protection of sources is a cardinal journalism principle.
“It looks like we shall stay here for the rest of the weekend,” one of the Editors told PML Daily on condition of anonymity.
The editors were expected to be returned to Nalufenya detention facility in Friday evening after being searched again the whole day.
Five Red Pepper Directors together with three editors were on Tuesday arrested by the Police and have been charged with treason – among the three charges read to them by detectives who recorded their statements on Wednesday night.
Sources close to the ongoing interrogation of the Editors currently jailed at police detention facility at Nalufenya, Jinja told PML Daily that the tabloid newspaper chiefs have also been charged with offensive communication, and disturbing the peace of President Museveni, Gen. Salim Saleh, and security Minister Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde.
Senior Superintendent of Police Mark Odong is leading a team of detectives who recorded the statements on Wednesday night, after a whole day search of their offices and cars.
Human rights organisations and the international community have condemned the police conduct in the matter, asking for the release of the Editors.
The US Embassy in Kampala said on Friday that the act of closing down the media house and arresting it’s top officials was an attack on the freedom of speech as enshrined in the Constitution.
The Committee to Protect Journalists also called for the release of the editors and comdemned the imminent charge of treason that the police has slapped on them. The Uganda Online Publishers Association has also criticised the police conduct and given the police authority an ultimatum of Friday to release the Editors or risk a news blackout.
Police on Tuesday closed down Uganda’s popular tabloid and took over it’s premises in Namanve, declaring it a scene of crime.
Police spokesman Emilian Kayima said the police will remain at the premises until they finish investigations in relation to a story that the newspaper published saying President Museveni was training Rwanda rebels to topple the government of President Kagame.
The police says the story was prejudicial to national and regional security.
Five Red Pepper directors were arrested including – Arinaitwe Rugyendo the editorial director; Richard Tusiime, the Managing Direcyor; James Mujuni; Patrick Mugumya and Johnson Musinguzi and the Editors- Ben Byarabaha; Tumusiime Tinywana and Richard Kintu.
They are being held at Nalufenya. Human Rights organisations have criticised the police for criminalizing journalism work.