Reporters Without Borders protested today against the 19 December seizure by state security police of three independent newspapers, Al-Horriya, As-Sahafi al-Dawli and As-Sahafa, after they mentioned rumours about food poisoning.
"This move is especially serious because it incurs big financial losses for the papers," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard, calling for the issues to be returned.
The authorities have censored independent newspapers more than a dozen times so far this year for their handling of topics including circumcision, AIDS, peace talks with southern SPLA rebels and discussion of the former power behind the regime, Hassan el-Turabi.
Saad Eddin Ibrahim, editor of Al-Horriya, said he was told the papers were seized at their printing works because they published an announcement by the animal resources ministry denying rumours that a cattle illness had infected humans through meat and milk consumption. Articles about the supposed contamination had earlier been banned by the government.