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Sudan16 October 2006

Newspaper reporter freed after being held for more than two weeks

Journalist Abu Obeida Abdallah of the privately-owned daily Al-Rai al-Aam was released yesterday. His newspaper said he was arrested on 29 September in connection with the murder of Mohamed Taha, the editor of the privately-owned daily Al-Wifaq, at the beginning of the month.

Another person detained in connection with the murder reportedly told investigators that Abdallah had called him just hours before Taha was killed and said the murder was going to take place. Abdallah, who said he was not mistreated while in detention, denied the allegation.

03.10.2006 - Security forces have held Al-Rai Al-Aam journalist for four days

Reporters Without Borders called on the Sudanese authorities to justify the secret detention of Abu Obeida Abdallah, a journalist on the independent daily Al-Rai al-Aam, arrested by security forces in Khartoum on 29 September 2006, without any official explanation.

“The Sudanese authorities must provide an explanation about the holding of Abu Obeida Abdallah” said Reporters Without Borders. “If he is being held because of his work the journalist should be released immediately and without any action taken against him".

“If he is being held for other reasons, we demand that they be made public and that his right to impartial proceedings be respected,” it added.

The information ministry admitted on 2 October that police were holding the journalist, a specialist on the Darfur question, for “investigation” and said he would shortly be freed but without elaborating. Obeida Abdallah has had no contact with colleagues or family since 29 September or any access to a lawyer. Under Sudanese law he should have been charged or released within 48 hours.

The journalist covered Darfur peace talks between the government and several rebel groups at the Abuja summit in May 2006. Some Sudanese journalists told Reporters Without Borders they believe he may be under questioning about these sensitive issues, perhaps to force him to reveal his sources.

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