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RSF denounces new wave of censorship of Arabic-language dailies

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has condemned the censorship of six privately-owned Arabic-language dailies during the week of 19 August 2007 in an attempt by the security forces to suppress reports about the arrests of eight alleged terrorists.

"The vice-president announced the official lifting of censorship nearly a year ago," the press freedom organisation said. "Now we regrettably see that this practice is continuing despite President Omar Al-Bashir's promises of democratisation. The reasons given are all the more unsatisfactory as the measures are clearly targeted. The privately-owned Arabic-language newspapers are always the first victims."

When eight Sudanese citizens suspected of organising bomb attacks on western embassies were detained on 18 August, the security services immediately ordered the daily "Al-Rai Al-Shaab"'s editor not to make any reference to their arrests on the official grounds that this could hamper the investigation.

The security services went to the newspaper's printing press on 20 August and confiscated all the copies of the latest issue because of the publication of comments by the interior minister about the discovery of explosives in the previous day's issue.

"Al-Rai Al-Shaab" columnist Kamal Omer reported that on 21 August the security services conditioned the newspaper's publication on the withdrawal of several articles. When the editorial staff refused to comply, the entire issue was again seized, at a heavy financial loss for the newspaper. Since then, it has not been able to publish.

The five other Arabic-language newspapers to have been censored during the past few days are "Al-Soudani", "Al-Sahafa", "Al-Ayam", "Al-Rai Al-Ayam" and "Hikyat". The security services have been visiting them every morning and demanding the suppression of certain articles.

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