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.”
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.