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Alrakoba, family fear Saudi Arabia deports journalist to Sudan

September 4 - 2015 KHARTOUM / NEW YORK
The prison in Dammam, Saudi Arabia (file photo)
The prison in Dammam, Saudi Arabia (file photo)

An international committee for journalists, Sudanese civil and political organisations and family members have appealed to Saudi Arabia not to hand over a detained journalist who works for the independent Sudanese news website Alrakoba, to Sudan.

Waleed El Hussein, founder of the news website, was held at his home in El Khobar on 23 July. He is being held for unknown charges in Ma'aloumat Prison in the city of Dammam, near Khobar. He has been denied access to his lawyer, his brother told the international Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

The appeals from several Sudanese civil and political organisations were expressed in press statements they recently issued. The editorial council of Alrakoba has appealed to the Saudi authorities to release El Hussein.

The newspaper urged that he should not to be deported to Sudan and be allowed to choose any other state where he wants to go to, in the event the Kingdom decides to remove the Sudanese editor from its territory.

Initially the editorial council stated that El Hussein was an editor and administrator, but now that his detention has become publicly known, it announced that he is the one who founded Alrakoba in 2005. Starting as a discussion forum, it is critical of the Sudanese government and covers issues such as government corruption and human rights abuses.

CPJ stressed in a press statement yesterday that El Hussein's family fears that he will be deported to Sudan, where he is at risk of arrest and abuse by security forces who have threatened his life.

The journalist's brother informed CPJ that he has been told that he would be deported to Sudan. El Hussein has lived in Saudi Arabia for 15 years.

“We are extremely concerned for Waleed El Hussein's safety should he be forced to return to Sudan,” CPJ's Middle East and North Africa programme coordinator, Sherif Mansour, said from Washington. “He has a right to be granted access to his lawyer and should know the reasons of his arrest.”

CPJ added that El Hussein's wife gave birth two weeks ago while he was in prison, and has been unable to issue a birth certificate for the child without the father's presence or his identification papers.

The first news reports about the detention came from the Sudanese non-governmental Journalists'association for Human Rights (JAHR) network this week.

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