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Sudan continues newspaper confiscation, detains chief editor

December 19 - 2017 KHARTOUM
The logo of El Watan newspaper.
The logo of El Watan newspaper.

The print-run of El Watan daily newspaper was confiscated on Monday morning and its editor-in-chief detained by the Sudanese national intelligence service (NISS).

Members of the security apparatus confiscated the newspapers from the printing press without giving an explanation. They also detained El Watan editor-in-chief Yousif Siraj early in the morning.

Editorial director Abdelwahab Musa told Radio Dabanga yesterday that Siraj had not yet been released.

Journalists of El Watan said that the confiscation probably came against the backdrop of the newspaper's reports on the rise of food prices in the country. The newspaper allocated an entire page to people's livelihood and the increase of prices on a daily basis.

The Sudanese Journalists' Network released a press statement about the most recent confiscation of a critical Sudanese newspaper. The network said that the event, including the detention of the editor-in-chief, is part of a more dangerous situation in Sudan in which journalists are being targeted, “and no media or person will be excluded”.

On 5 December, the NISS announced an end to its eight-day campaign of newspaper confiscations which caused extensive financial losses to the Khartoum newspaper industry. El Watan print-runs were seized on at least three days that week. The Sudanese Journalists’ Network called a one-day strike to protest the campaign.

In previous weeks, newsrooms and journalists in Sudan spoke out against draft amendments to the 2009 Press Act which may further restrict press freedom. So far, draft amendments have remained confidential. But according to a publication of the draft by El Tayyar, amendments include limitations on the electronic press' freedom and these are similar to the restrictions already imposed on the traditional press.

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