The Journalists’ Association for Human Rights (JAHR) has welcomed the release of Waleed El Hussein by the Saudi authorities last week. On Tuesday, security agents confiscated the print-run of El Sudani newspaper in Khartoum.
El Hussein, founder of the Sudanese Alrakoba news site, was held at his home in El Khobar, Saudi Arabia, on 23 July last year. He was transported to Maloumat Prison in Dammam without being charged. El Hussein lived in Saudi Arabia for 15 years.
Started as an electronic discussion forum in 2005, Alrakoba remains critical of the Sudanese government, and covers issues such as government corruption and human rights abuses. The website is very popular among Sudanese at home and abroad despite repeated attempts by the authorities to block it.
In September, the international Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported that El Hussein’s lawyer was still not allowed to visit him. The journalist’s brother informed CPJ that Saudi officials told him that El Hussein would be deported to Sudan.
The CJP expressed its concerns for the safety of El Hussein, should he be forced to return to Sudan.
JAHR Coordinator-General, Feisal El Bagir, told Radio Dabanga on Tuesday that he believes that the Sudanese security apparatus must have been involved in the arrest of El Hussein.
He called the release of El Hussein “a victory for the freedom of expression and the press”, and lauded ‘the steadfastness of El Hussein in detention” and “the campaigns carried out by local and international organisations for his release”.
El Bagir considered the confiscation of the print-run of El Sudani on Tuesday “a sign of the government’s continued repression of the press and the right of expression, in particular as no reason was provided”.
He pointed to the case of El Tayar newspaper that was suspended by the security apparatus in December last year. After El Tayar staff members embarked on a hunger strike early this month, the authorities agreed to handle the case by legal procedures. “This means that El Sudani can also go to court over the confiscation without repercussions,” he said.