The Sudanese authorities should immediately release El Jarida reporter Ahmed Jadein, cease confiscating newspapers, and allow journalists to report on matters of public interest without fear of reprisal, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on February 2.
Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) detained Jadein on January 31 while he was reporting on anti-price hike protests in Khartoum North. Jadein has been held without charges, Ashraf Abdelaziz, El Jarida's editor-in-chief said.
Abdelaziz told Radio Dabanga on February 1 that, before the newspapers issue went to print that morning, he received a call from someone who identified himself as an NISS officer, asking whether the issue contained any coverage of the protests. After Abdelaziz confirmed, security agents confiscated all copies from the printer. The print-run of El Midan, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of Sudan was confiscated that day as well
“Responding to critical coverage of protests by jailing a journalist and seizing newspapers undercuts the already narrow margin of freedom in which the Sudanese press operates,” CPJ's Middle East and North Africa Programme Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington D.C. “We call on Sudanese authorities to immediately release Ahmed Jadein and cease their absurd attempts to silence the press.”
The Sudanese government's decision to devaluate the local currency in January and rising bread prices sparked ongoing protests across the country, which have resulted in police killing at least one protester and arresting hundreds of activists.
In January, the Sudanese authorities confiscated more than one edition of at least four newspapers.
Freelance journalist Amal Habbani and El Midan correspondent Kamal Karrar were held on January 16. Since then they has been held by the NISS without providing details about their detention. Radio Dabanga reported earlier that Habani was allegedly hit with an electric baton during an interrogation.
Many other journalists, including correspondents of Reuters and AFP, who were detained while covering anti-price hikes protests in the past few weeks have been released.
Sudan ranks 174th out of 180 countries in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index.