Sudan confiscates editions of various dailies for 2nd day in row

KHARTOUM – Sudanese security authorities have confiscated all editions of various Arabic-language dailies for the second day in a row without giving any reason, journalists with the newspapers in question said.

On Monday, security forces seized all editions of Al-Sudani, Al-Hurra and Al-Ahram Al-Yaum. A day later, all editions of Akhir Lahza and Al-Jareeda as well as Al-Sudani – for the second day in a row – were confiscated.

Akhir Lahza editor-in-chief Mustafa Abualazaiem said he was informed by his paper’s agent to the printing company that the authorities ordered the latter not to complete the printing process, after it printed 5,000 copies, without giving any reasons.

“The authorities told me that they will inform me of the reasons behind the move, but so far, as I speak, I do not know the reasons and they did not contact me yet,” Abualazaiem told Anadolu Agency.

Abualazaiem noted that the confiscation forced his paper to incur heavy financial losses, estimated at 40,000 Sudanese pounds (around $7,000).

“Although we did not print our whole editions, we have lost 22,000 pounds of advertisement, 8,000 pounds of printing costs and 10,000 pounds of salaries and working costs,” he added.

Chief editor of Al-Sudani newspaper Dhieaudeen Bilal was not available to comment.

But on Monday, he said that his paper incurred 180,000 pounds (around $32,000).

An Al-Sudani reporter told AA that the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) informed the paper management at midday on Monday to send representatives to take their editions to distribute and make them available for its readers.

“We did not go, so I think it [Tuesday's confiscation] was a retaliatory reaction,” said the reporter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to speak on behalf of the paper.

The Sudanese Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) said in a statement that the NISS confiscated on Monday and Tuesday a total of five Arabic daily newspapers after printing, without giving any reasons or justifications.

Moreover, the JHR said, a journalist was harassed by the police and was prevented from doing his job on Saturday.

The JHR explained that Mohamed Fathi Mohamed was harassed by the police while making a report on Saturday in Dalgu Locality in the Northern State, whereas he was interrogated and was prevented from continuing his journalistic work.

“JHR demands the authority …to assure the freedom of expression and the freedom of opinion,” the group asserted in a statement.

For its part, the Sudanese Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms (SOFRF) condemned the confiscation of the newspapers by the authorities.

SOFRF chief Farouk Ibrahim said the crackdown came despite remarks by President Omar al-Bashir on the launch of dialogue with all political forces and civil society organizations.

"Yet the requirements of this dialogue are not in place yet, especially the freedom of expression, whereas the Sudanese press remained subject to constant violations and wide interventions by the NISS," he said.

He also accused the NISS of "continuing its fierce repression of the press and the newspapers, preventing them from issuance, confiscating the right to freedom of expression and banning the journalists from writing."

Speaking to AA, Ibrahim said that his group is following with concern what he described as the "systematic targeting of the Sudanese press."

The crackdown also extended to affect journalists themselves, he added, citing the continued detention of journalist Ashraf Khogali, who was arrested in the wake of last September protests as well as that of journalist and blogger Tajelddin Arja, and demanded their immediate release or taking them to court for a fair trial.

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