A newspaper journalist has been told to report the offices of the security service in Khartoum daily for over a week, while another was detained and interrogated about an article she wrote last week.
Press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders stated on Monday that it is extremely concerned about the ways the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) is harassing the two reporters, Eiman Mustafa of El Jareeda and Hiba Abedazim of El Sudani.
Mustafa was arrested in the Khartoum district of Omdurman on 6 September and has been summoned for questioning at NISS headquarters every day since then. For three days in a row – on 8, 9 and 10 September – she was forced to spend more than 12 hours each day there, according to the organistion.
The NISS has been questioning her about an article published on 4 September on the conflicts of interest of certain politicians who have been blocking a proposed agriculture law in parliament since 2010.
She is also being questioned about her political affiliations and links with youth movements because, when arrested, she was with young people involved in organizing activities to commemorate the September 2013 protests. It is not yet clear if she was with them because of her journalistic activities.
Abedazim was detained on 10 September when she went to Afra Mall on the south side of Khartoum to meet with a source and instead found four NISS vehicles awaiting her. She was taken to NISS headquarters and was interrogated for more than two hours there, about a 2 September article on water pollution in Khartoum state.
“Arresting journalists for interrogation is only too common in Sudan, where the NISS enjoys complete freedom to do whatever it wants,” said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa desk.
“We call for an immediate end to these summonses and interrogations as they are a completely unwarranted form of harassment that does the government’s image a great deal of damage.”
Abdelazim was tried before the Intellectual Property Court of Khartoum on 11 December 2014 under article 159 (defamation) of the 1991 Sudanese Penal Code. According to the monitoring African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, Abdelazim had published an article on 17 March 2014 on corruption at the Ministry of Social Affairs, and the complainants were senior officers within the Ministry of Social Affairs of Khartoum.
Ranked 174th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, Sudan is notorious for hounding its journalist and news media, Reporters said. Arbitrary arrests, seizures of newspaper issues and forced closures are all often used to control news and information