Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander Frank Mwesigwa has said police has finished the search of Red Pepper offices and that staff have been allowed to leave the premises. One of the staff who is outside the Namanve-based premises, however, says no one has been allowed to leave.
"We are through with searching (Red Pepper) staff and they are allowed to go. We as police are still here because this is still a crime scene," Mwesigwa who is leading the operation told Uganda Radio Network.
A short statement posted on Red Pepper Facebook page an hour ago says, "Police officers under the command of Kampala Metropolitan commander Frank Mwesigwa have arrested all Red Pepper staff, confiscated their phones and ordered a search of all their homes. No one is allowed to leave the premises. No production and work is allowed."
The raid is related to a story published on Monday claiming that Uganda was planning to topple the Government of Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
Police came with a warrant granted by Buganda Road Magistrate James Ereemye Mawanda. The search warrant given to D/AIP Walya Henry Peter says "It has been proved to me that in fact according to reasonable suspicion the following thing/things: to be searched include laptops, desk tops, CPUs, computer accessories (electronic) and any other documents related to Red Pepper news publication of Monday, 20th November 2017."
Uganda Radio Network earlier spoke to Arinaitwe Rugyendo, one of the company directors who said they were cooperating with police but were unsure when the search would be completed. Rugyendo's phone has since been switched off.
One of the staff who is outside the Namanve-based premises, however, says no one has been allowed to leave. "No one has so far left. I am here outside. I have not been allowed to enter. And I have not seen anyone leaving," he said on condition of anonymity.
The Red Pepper issue of November 20 published an article headlined; "M7 plotting to overthrow Kagame - Rwanda." The ministry of foreign affairs in a statement yesterday swiftly dismissed Red Pepper's story as reproduction of a malicious article by a Rwandan online publication "Rushyashya" of an alleged plan by the Ugandan Government to overthrow the Rwanda Government.
The Ministry Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Patrick Mugoya, said the two countries are currently enjoying strong and cordial relations.
"The Ministry informs the citizens of both Uganda and Rwanda that the continuous innuendo by the likes of 'Rushyashya' and various other media outlets both in Uganda and Rwanda, including The Red Pepper is mischievous at best, irresponsible at worst and meant to sow discord between our two sister nations. The ministry condemns such abuse of the communication platforms they are privileged to manage," the statement reads in part.
Ambassador Mugoya noted that bilateral ties between Uganda and Rwanda "remain solid and Rwanda remains a strategic partner to Uganda" in both countries' visions for integration and for peace and security in the region.