The Sudanese security service has released all but two of the reporters who were detained for covering the price-hike protests in Khartoum last week. Reuters and AFP confirmed the release of their correspondents without charges.
On Monday the security authorities released Reuters correspondent Khalid Abdelaziz and AFP correspondent Abdelmunim Abu Idris, along with journalist Shawgi Abelazim (El Youm El Tali) who were arrested when they reported on the vigil in Omdurman Ahliya on Wednesday.
The release of the three journalists came after the release of three other journalists on Sunday, including Majdi El Ajab of the local and privately owned El Watan newspaper, Rashan Poshi of the privately owned Mijhar El Siyasi, and Imtithal El Radi of the privately owned El Youm El Tali.
Journalist Amal Habani (El Hurra newspaper) and Kamal Karrar of El Midan are still being held in custody of the security service. On Thursday, they were among eight journalists who also remained in securitydetention. All of them had covered the marches and vigils in Khartoum and Omdurman against the rise of prices on Tuesday and Wednesday.
After his release, Abu Idris told his news agency AFP that he was “at home now with my family” and had been treated well in detention. Reuters reported that Khalid Abdelaziz also had not been mistreated. “We are extremely relieved”.
The United States State Department was “closely following” the detention of the reporters. “We condemn the harassment, arbitrary detention, and attacks on journalists in Sudan who are doing their jobs and exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
Besides the US, which has recently tried to improve relations with Sudan by lifting economic sanctions on Sudan, two human rights organisations criticised the crack-down on journalists covering the protests, being the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Sans Frontières.
Price hike protests
People have held demonstrations nearly every day this month against the sharp price increases following the higher taxes in Sudan on consumer goods, including flour and fuel, that the new annual budget includes.
In addition to this, the statutory increase in the customs price of the US Dollar from SDG 6.7 to SDG 18 caused a rise in the Dollar exchange rate in the parallel market. The Dollar rate in the black market increased with SDG 6 in less than two weeks.
The new budget has been criticised for allocating the majority of funds to security, defence and presidential expenditures.