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Journalist still detained in unknown location, at risk of torture

(WiPC/IFEX) - The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC) protests the two-week detention of Al-Ghali Yahya Shegifat, journalist and president of the Association of Darfur Journalists. Initially briefly detained and reportedly ill treated on 12 May 2008, Shegifat was re-arrested on 14 May, held incommunicado until 30 May and remains imprisoned. It is feared that he is at risk of further ill treatment. The WiPC is calling for his release.

Shegifat (32), freelance journalist, including for the privately-owned daily "Ray Al-Shaab", and president of the Association of Darfur Journalists, has been detained, apparently without charge, since 14 May. That day, he was arrested in Khartoum as part of a government crackdown in which over 200 individuals detained between 9 and 16 May, and held incommunicado for two weeks.

Those arrested are understood to have been accused of supporting the armed opposition group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), which has been fighting Sudanese government forces in Darfur since 2003 and launched an attack on Khartoum for the first time on 10 May. The arrests were reportedly arbitrary, made on the basis of people being or appearing to be from the Darfur region or on suspicion of having sheltered JEM members.

Some 50 of the detainees have since been released, but many of those still detained are reported to be held incommunicado at Kober prison and other national security detention facilities in Khartoum or at unknown locations. Shegifat was held incommunicado until 29 or 30 May, when a lawyer was finally able to visit him. It is not known where Shegifat is being held or if he has been formally charged.

It is feared that Shegifat and the other detainees are at risk of torture and other ill treatment, or even extra judicial killing. One of the detainees reportedly died in detention on 19 May as a result of internal bleeding caused by severe injuries. Shegifat is said to have suffered physical ill treatment during a previous arrest by national security agents on 12 May.

Other alerts on this case:
Amnesty International: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AFR54/026/2008/en/2549ff8b-2b74-11dd-845e-0fffaa32a89c/afr540262008eng.html
Reporters Sans Frontieres: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=27113

Background information on Sudan: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/country_profiles/820864.stm

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