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Sudan19 December 2003

Police closed Al-Jazeera bureau in Khartoum

Reporters Without Borders today condemned yesterday’s closure by police of the Khartoum bureau of the Qatar-based satellite TV news network Al-Jazeera and the detention of bureau chief Islam Salih for three hours. "We call on the security services to authorise the immediate reopening of Al-Jazeera’s bureau in Khartoum and to stop censoring this TV network by preventing it from carrying news about Sudan," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said.

The authorities have accused the Arabic-language network of broadcasting false information in a report about tuberculosis victims in Sudan’s mines, an interview with members of the political opposition and a report from the province of Darfour.

The day before the bureau’s closure, it was raided by police without a warrant who confiscated transmission equipment and three cameras on the pretext that no customs duty was paid when they were brought into the country.

The confiscation was clearly motivated by displeasure with Al-Jazeera’s coverage of Sudan. Several days before, the authorities had threatened to raid the bureau if it did not immediately change its coverage, especially as regards the civil war in southern Sudan

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