Freelance journalist Faisal Mohammed Salih* (right) is to be prosecuted on a charge of refusing to cooperate with the authorities after being held for six days by the security forces in Khartoum, media rights groups report.
“Salih deserves a public apology from the Sudanese authorities for this constant harassment but instead they are keeping up the pressure by bringing criminal charges,” said Reporters Without Borders. “We call for the immediate withdrawal of the charges and for guarantees that he will be able to resume working without any further harassment.”
A campaign of official harassment began after Salih criticized President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in an interview for Al-Jazeera on 19 April. He was forced to spend six to seven hours at the National Intelligence and Security Services office in Khartoum every day since 25 April without being interrogated.
“The authorities are deploying a wide array of coercive measures against individuals and media organisations to discourage or prevent independent reporting and critical comment,” Jean-Baptiste Gallopin, Amnesty International’s Sudan researcher, said in a statement.
“Sudan is blacklisting journalists and censoring articles on topics of great importance at this volatile time,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Sudan should immediately stop these tactics and show respect for basic freedoms.”
HRW said intelligence agents this month censored an opinion article in the Al-Sahafa daily, and another in Al-Tayar which questioned the claim that Sudan was victorious at Heglig, the north’s main oil field which South Sudan occupied for 10 days. In April, security officials warned a journalist for the Al-Jarida daily not to write about the Heglig conflict, HRW said.
State intelligence agents ordered three newspapers shut earlier this year while others have had their print runs seized.
*Salih is a grantee of the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group.