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Sudan6 January 2005

Opposition newspaper editor freed after being held secretly for more than a month

Hussein Khogali, the publisher and editor of the independent, Arabic-language daily Alwan, was freed on 5 January after more than a month in detention. The police secretly held him in Khartoum’s Kober prison from 22 November until 18 December, allowing him no contact with either his lawyer or family.

They then moved him to a military hospital because he has an abdominal hernia. While there, he was guarded by two members of the National Security Agency (NSA) and was allowed to receive visits from his wife. Very occasional visits by other family members were also allowed. He was held under article 31 of the National Security Act which empowers the security forces to hold someone for three to six months without charge.

30 November, 2004 Opposition newspaper editor held in secret location for past week

Reporters Without Borders voiced alarm today about the detention of Hussein Khogali, the publisher and editor of the independent Arabic-language daily Alwan, who has been held by the police in an undisclosed location since 22 November without being charged.

It is believed he may be in Kober prison, but neither his family nor his lawyer has been allowed to contact him. The police also confiscated the newspaper’s entire 23 November issue.

"We have a right to be worried when, after several months of harassment and surveillance, a journalist is arrested and held in a secret location," Reporters Without Borders said. "It is unacceptable the way they have virtually made him disappear. The Sudanese authorities must say what he is charged with, and whatever the charges, they must guarantee his rights as a citizen."

Khogali was already imprisoned for 17 days in September, and was only released on condition he stopped writing in his own newspaper. He was told this verbally by members of the National Security Agency (NSA) who, according to a local source, suspected him of continuing to write the occasional article.

The authorities have always considered Khogali to be a sympathiser of Hassan Alturabi, the leader of the Islamist opposition Popular National Congress (PNC), and his newspaper has been viewed as the PNC’s semi-official mouthpiece. But Khogali has always insisted the newspaper is independent.

After his release in September, the NSA asked him to accuse Alturabi and his party of plotting a coup and sowing discord in the capital, Khartoum, but he refused. NSA agents paid several unannounced visits to the newspaper’s printing works in October and November, gathering information and taking away articles.

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