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Sudan28 October 2003

The Khartoum Monitor finally allowed to publish again

Sudanese authorities on 16 October authorised the reappearance of the English-language daily The Khartoum Monitor, which had been shut down on 12 July after printing criticism of the government that allegedly violated the criminal code.

The appeal court had struck down the ban on 13 September and the National Press Council had said the paper could publish again, but the state prosecutor in charge of subversion crimes, Mohammed Farid Hassan, overruled them and said the ban would continue until legal investigations in the case were complete. Now he has accepted the decision of the prosecutor-general to obey the appeal court decision.

The Sudanese mission at the United Nations in Geneva claimed on 21 October that the lifting of the ban, along with the ending of the recent suspension by Hassan of the newspapers Alwan and d’Al-Azminah, meant that censorship had ended for good in Sudan.


Call for immediate reappearance of Khartoum Monitor

Reporters Without Borders called today on the Sudanese authorities to stop harassing the daily Khartoum Monitor and allow it to reappear at once in line with a court decision.

The English-language paper’s publishing licence was cancelled on 12 July, but this decision was struck down last week on appeal and the National Press Council said it could reappear. However it failed to come out on 13 September as planned after pressure by the government prosecutor in charge of subversion, Mohammed Farid Hassan, who blocked it under article 130 (paragraphs 1 and 3) of the code of criminal procedure until investigation of the case was complete.

"The paper is the target of serious harassment by the National Security Agency and the anti-subversion prosecutor, who has once again defied a court decision," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard.

The paper was suspended in July for running a supposedly illegal interview last year with a former cabinet minister from the south who strongly criticised the government. A day earlier, the paper had brought out its first issue after a two-month suspension after being found guilty in May of inciting religious discord and hatred of the state and being fined 500,000 Sudanese pounds (about 200 euros).

The campaign against the paper is part of a battle between the National Security Agency, which wants to keep control of media matters, and the National Press Council, which President Omar el-Beshir decreed on 12 August would hitherto supervise the media and guarantee press freedom

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