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Sudan5 September 2003

Newspaper suspended for "incitement to sedition"

Reporters Without Borders called on the Sudanese government today to immediately allow reappearance of the daily newspaper Alwan, suspended on 2 September after state security officials accused it of incitement to sedition.

"This is the third time this year the paper has been censored," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to justice minister Ali Mohammed Osman Yassin calling for the ban to be lifted.

The measure contradicts the 12 August presidential decree guaranteeing press freedom, ending censorship by the National Security Agency and transferring supervision of the press to the National Press Council. Before the decree was issued, President Omar al-Beshir had promised that everyone would be able to speak freely in the press and even on state-controlled TV.

"The suspension of Alwan seems to end this attempt at press liberalisation and also appears to indicate a conflict between the president and the National Security Agency," Ménard said.

Mohammed Farid Hassan, the prosecutor who handles subversion cases, ordered the paper’s suspension under articles 66 and 69 of the criminal code and article 25 of the press law, pending consideration of a complaint by the National Security Agency that it had printed articles inciting people to sedition and likely to disturb public order. Agency officials had objected when the President Beshir suggested they would no longer intervene in press matters.

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