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RSF calls for release of all imprisoned journalists in wake of president's announcement

(RSF/IFEX) - 29 August 2011 - Reporters Without Borders welcomes President Omar Al-Bashir's announcement during a meeting with journalists on 27 August that he intends to free all journalists imprisoned in Sudan, but we call for this decision to be extended to all media workers and for it to be carried out without delay.

The announcement was followed yesterday by the release of Gafar Alsabki Ibrahim, a journalist with the Arabic-language daily Al-Sahafa, who had been detained since 3 November 2010. But Abdelrahman Adam, an employee of Radio Dabanga, and six of the station's other employees, who have been detained since 30 October 2010, were not freed.

"Gafar Alsabki's release is obviously good news but the authorities must also free Radio Dabanga's employees and must go further by dropping all the charges against them," Reporters Without Borders said.

"We should also not forget that the past few weeks have been marked by confiscations of newspapers and a return to prior censorship, measures that violate media freedom. If Sudan wants to be seen as a country that respects freedom of expression, it really must put a stop to such practices."

Broadcasting on the short wave from the Netherlands, Radio Dabanga is the only station that specializes in covering the situation in Darfur. As it is not legally recognized by the Sudanese authorities, its employees in Sudan lack press cards and official recognition of their status as journalists.

The detained Radio Dabanga employees are accused of divulging state secrets, undermining the constitutional system, calling for resistance and inciting sedition under articles 24, 25, 26, 53 and 50 of the 1991 criminal code and articles 18, 42 and 44 of the 2001 communications law. The article 50 violation carries the death penalty.
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