Award-winning Ugandan author Kakwenza Rukirabashaija has been charged with two counts of “offensive communication” after making unflattering remarks about the president and his son on Twitter.
According to the prosecution, he “used his Twitter handle to disturb the peace” of President Yoweri Museveni and his son, Lt-Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
According to local media, Mr Rukirabashaija has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
He called Lt-Gen Muhoozi “obese” and a “curmudgeon” in a tweet.
The author also stated on Twitter that “the Musevenis have imposed enormous suffering on this country.”
President Museveni, 77, has been in power in Uganda since 1986, and it has long been speculated that he is grooming his son, a powerful military figure, to succeed him.
Kakwenza Rukirabashaija is best known for The Greedy Barbarian, a satirical novel about high-level corruption in a fictional country, and Banana Republic: Where Writing is Treasonous, an account of torture he endured while detained in 2020.
Last year, he won the Pen Pinter Prize for an international writer of courage.
Local opposition parties and civil society groups – along with the United States and the European Union – have been calling for the writer’s release since his detention on 28 December.
Mr Rukirabashaija appeared in court in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, for the first time since his arrest on Tuesday.
Eron Kiiza, his lawyer, told the magistrate that the 33-year-old author’s health was failing.
Mr Kiiza previously claimed that Mr Rukirabashaija was tortured in detention.
Under the Computer Misuse Act, the author has been charged with two counts of “offensive communication.”
According to the prosecution, Mr Rukirabashaija “wilfully and repeatedly used his Twitter handle to disturb the peace of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Uganda, Gen Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, with no legitimate communication purpose.”
In relation to the president’s son, he is facing a similar charge.
According to Reuters, if convicted, Mr Rukirabashaija could face up to a year in prison.
Mr Rukirabashaija was remanded in custody by the magistrate, and the case was postponed until January 21.