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Sudan5 December 2006

Journalist freed after being held incommunicado at police unit for 12 days

Al-Sahafa columnist Al-Tahir Satti was released on 4 December after being held for 12 days in what he described as “poor conditions” in an investigative police unit in north Khartoum. He said he had to sleep on the floor, was never given a change of clothes and was not allowed to talk to his family or to a lawyer. He also said he was questioned for less than 10 minutes during all the time he was held.

28.11.2006 - Authorities asked to explain why journalist held incommunicado for past six days

Reporters Without Borders today called on the Sudanese authorities to explain why Al-Tahir Satti, a reporter with the independent daily Al-Sahafa, has been held incommunicado by the criminal investigation police since 22 November.

“If Satti is being held in connection with his work as a journalist, he must be freed at once,” the press freedom organisation said. “If he is being held for some other reason, the authorities must say what that is, and he must be allowed a fair trial. Failure to comply with the legal procedures will just undermine the investigation’s credibility.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “The authorities cannot be surprised that we think it is outrageous that they are once again breaking the promises they made in the presence of the international community in July 2005.”

Satti did not turn up for work or return home on 22 November. The criminal investigation police told the journalists’ union the next day that it was holding Satti but did not explain why, although it claimed his arrest was not related to his work. The press law stipulates that the journalists’ union must be notified if any journalist is summoned for questioning by investigators.

Now held for the past six days in an undisclosed location, Satti has not been able to communicate with his family or his newspaper, and he has not been allowed access to a lawyer. Journalists in Khartoum believed he has been arrested on the orders of the committee that is investigating the 6 September murder of journalist Mohamed Taha. Along with other journalists, he had already been questioned by those investigating the case.

Abou Obeida Abdallah, a journalist with the privately-owned daily Al-Rai al-Aam, was arrested on 29 September and was held for two weeks without any explanation being given.

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