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Sudan's crackdown on press: Journalist detained for hours

October 19 - 2018 PORT SUDAN / KHARTOUM
Journalists Osman Mirghani, Shamael El Nur, Maha El Talab, Ashraf Abdelaziz and Lina Yagoub were summoned by the Khartoum state security prosecution to appear on Tuesday (file photos)
Journalists Osman Mirghani, Shamael El Nur, Maha El Talab, Ashraf Abdelaziz and Lina Yagoub were summoned by the Khartoum state security prosecution to appear on Tuesday (file photos)

The government has continued the crackdown on the press this week. A journalist in Red Sea state was held by the police a day after the state security prosecutor in Khartoum summoned several journalists who had attended a meeting with EU diplomats.

On Wednesday, the Red Sea state police held journalist Osman Hashim for hours. The Information Prosecution in the state had filed a complaint against Hashim. He was released after the payment of a bail and after pledging to appear before the prosecution in Khartoum.

On Tuesday, the Khartoum state security prosecution summoned a number of journalists to appear before the prosecutor. The Sudanese security service has filed complaints against several journalists and editors-in-chief, including Osman Mirghani, Ashraf Abdelaziz, Shamayel El Nour, Maha El Tilibb, and Lina Yagoub.

All had attended a meeting with European Union ambassadors andthe US Chargé d’Affaires in Khartoum on October 2, to discuss press freedom in the country. In a statement released after the meeting, EU Ambassador Jean-Michel Dumond said he would discuss the situation of the press in the country with the Sudanese government.

In response, Dumond was summoned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Detained for hours

Osman Hashim told Radio Dabanga that on Tuesday morning, police seized him at the Port Sudan market. “They have held me in a bad condition for hours. I was not allowed to contact family or take my regular medicine.”

The subject of the complaint against the journalist in Red Sea state concerns the Facebook account of a person on his list of friends on the social media platform, that according to Hashim has nothing to do with him.

He described the complaint as abusive, with the aim of pressing him to relinquish his earlier complaint against the state police chief on the grounds of his repeated summons and threats.

In addition, several journalists in Red Sea state are banned from writing in state newspapers. Hashim demanded the Journalists' Union in the state to stand in solidarity with them.

'Breaking the will of journalists'

The Journalists Association for Human Rights (JAHR) condemned and denounced the summoning of the journalists by the State Security Prosecution, and the investigation against them. The network said this is based “on fabrications such as defamation of the government and lying, which are considered a blatant attempt to break the will of the journalists.

“The escalating security measures taken against journalists, especially the editors of daily newspapers in Khartoum, are arbitrary,” said journalist Feisal El Bagir, JAHR general coordinator. “These measures target specific newspapers because they are, in the eyes of the authorities, opposed to their policies.”

He told Radio Dabanga that journalists have the duty to meet with community leaders, politicians, civilians, members of civil society organisations, native leaders and diplomats. “They have to contact any source, in and outside of Sudan, to express the issues of society, and that is a constitutional right.”


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