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Sudan’s press court sentences editors to fines or jail for ‘false news’

March 27 - 2018 KHARTOUM
File photo
File photo

The press and publications court, headed by Judge Muiz Ahmed El Obeid, on Thursday sentenced the former editor-in-chief of El Mustagila newspaper Zeinelabdin Mohamed Ali for ‘publishing false news’ and imposed a fine of SDG15,000 (*$825) or one month in jail.

The charges against Ali date back to the end of 2015, when the newspaper published a report  on Qatar's payment of huge sums to Sudan and Ethiopia ‘to inflict drought on Egypt’.

According to Ali in a brief circular, he would rather be imprisoned than to pay the fine.

The same court earlier condemned the editor of El Jareeda newspaper Ashraf Abdelaziz and writer Hasan Warrag for false publishing and sentenced them to a fine of SDG 10,000 ($550) or a month's imprisonment.

The journalists also opted to go to jail before the Sudanese Journalists Network succeeded in releasing them after launching a campaign.

Press curbs

During the past years, Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) upgraded its already severe restrictions on press freedoms by restoring 'pre-publication censorship' and issuing a number of 'red lines' on matters that are not supposed to be covered by the media.

The purpose of confiscating print-runs is to exhaust the newspapers financially, the editor-in-chief of El Jareeda newspaper earlier explained to Radio Dabanga. “It is in fact a direct and methodical liquidation, meant to kill the independent press,” he said.

The Sudan scores 86 points out of 100 (0=Most Free/100=Least Free) on the list of 201 countries in the Freedom of the Press 2017 report of the USA-based Freedom House.

* Based on the official US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS)

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