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Ugandan Author, Journalist Remanded to Prison After Criticizing Museveni


FILE - A Ugandan policeman is seen on patrol against the backdrop of numerous campaign posters for long-time President Yoweri Museveni, on a street in Kampala, Uganda, Feb. 17, 2016.

Ugandan author Norman Tumuhimbise and journalist Bikobere Pharidah of Digitalk, an online television station, have been behind bars since last Thursday and are likely to stay there for at least several days more.

A court in Kampala issued formal charges against the two on Wednesday.

Lawyer Geoffrey Turyamusima, who represented Tumuhimbise and Pharidah in court, told VOA: "And the two charges, one is offensive communication and cyber stalking of the person of the president. They both pleaded not guilty, though they looked tortured."

FILE - Norman Tumuhimbise, a member of a Ugandan activist group, sits inside the Kampala Capital City Authority court, Sept. 5, 2014.
FILE - Norman Tumuhimbise, a member of a Ugandan activist group, sits inside the Kampala Capital City Authority court, Sept. 5, 2014.

Tumuhimbise and Pharidah were arrested along with seven other journalists at the Digitalk offices last week by a joint security team comprising Ugandan army soldiers and police officers.

Other journalists on the scene were released on bond but also face charges of offensive communication.

Authorities have not commented on the allegations of torture.

Turyamusima says that based on his clients' appearance in court, he will ask that a hearing be held on Monday to throw out the charges against Tumuhimbise and Pharidah.

In recent months, the Ugandan government has been accused of targeting writers seen as critical of the state — particularly writers who focus on President Yoweri Museveni and his family.

Tumuhimbise is a well-known critic of Museveni and his son, who is widely seen as a possible presidential successor.

In February, another author who criticized the president, Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, fled to Germany to seek treatment after allegedly being tortured for two weeks in a military facility.

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