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Newspaper journalist, editor face legal action over critical article

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 11 May 2010 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information denounced the fact that journalist Haj Warraq and Fayez Al Sheikh Al Saleek, editor of "Agras Al Horya" newspaper, are facing trial at an Al Khartoum court. In a communiqué, the National Security and Intelligence Agency accused the journalists of "humiliating the state and publishing false news".

The charges are linked to an article by Warraq, entitled "A true leader would not like to be a pimp". The article was published by "Agras Al Horya" newspaper, and edited by Saleek. The article spoke out in support of a boycott of the shameful Sudanese elections, and strongly criticised the National Conference and President Omar al-Bashir, who is accused of committing war crimes.

According to ANHRI, the press and publication prosecutor has launched an investigation concerning this "malicious" communiqué. The court referred the two journalists to trial in accordance with Article 66 of the Sudanese criminal law, and Articles 24 and 26 of the law on publications and the press. This legislation has been criticised by reformists who have called for amendments to the law on publications and the press.

Warraq and Saleek face a fine or imprisonment or both.

ANHRI expressed deep concern over the continuous harassment of the press and journalists by Sudanese authorities. The trial of the two journalists comes on the heels of an unjust decision by the Council of Press and Publications against "Al Hora" and "Al Ahram Al Youm" newspapers. Furthermore, the Sudanese Journalists' Union issued a harsh penalizing regulation entitled, "Regulation on the accountability of journalists".

ANHRI calls on Arab and international civil society organizations to exert pressure on the Sudanese government urging them to put an end to hostile attacks on freedom of opinion and expression and prevent the trial of the two journalists from proceeding.

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