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Sudan16 July 2002

Independent daily paper censored

image 73 x 52 (GIF) Reporters Without Borders today denounced the censoring of the 13 July issue of the independent Arab-language daily Al-Horreya ("Freedom") and called on the government to stop such "arbitrary persecution" of the country’s independent newspapers.

"This measure shows that despite the president’s ending of prior censorship last December, official pressure on the independent media continues," said Reporters Without Border secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to interior minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Husein.

Security officials went to the paper’s printing works in Khartoum on the night of 12-13 July and seized the already-printed front and back pages of the next day’s issue, said publisher Al-Haj Warraq. They did not explain why but said they would return them as soon as they had looked at them. But they had not returned by 8 a.m., so that day’s issue of the paper had to be abandoned, he said.

image 150 x 90 (GIF) The seizure is thought to have been prompted by the presence in the issue of a critical article about recent divisions among the main northern opposition party, El Umma, of which a faction led by Mubarak al-Fadil al-Mahdi decided on 12 July to ally itself with the government.

Al-Horreya, founded last September, has some of Sudan’s most prominent journalists on its staff, including Amal Abbas, former editor of Al-Rai al-Akhar, who was sentenced in February last year to three months in prison or a fine of 1.5 million dinars (6,400 euros) for publishing an article accusing the authorities of embezzling public money. She was unable to pay the fine, so served the sentence at the Omdurman prison in Khartoum.

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