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Sudan: Two journalists arrested, held in unknown location

Their arrests coincide with yet another seizure of a newspaper issue

Two journalists – Abdelrahman Alaagib of the daily newspaper Al-Youm Al-Tali and freelance photographer Eisa Aizain – have been held in an unknown location since 22 September, when the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) arrested them in central Khartoum for reasons that are also unknown.

Reporters Without Borders has been told that, during a TV broadcast, a NISS official accused Alaagib of being involved in the conflict in Darfur, the province he comes from. The official also stressed the fact that Alaagib is a member of the Ma'alia tribe.

“By playing up ethnicity in a bid to disguise its repressive policies, the government is just casting oil on the flames of the conflicts that are wreaking havoc in Sudan,” said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa desk. “We call for the immediate release of Alaagib and Aizain.”

These latest arrests are symptomatic of a still oppressive climate for the Sudanese media a year after hundreds of people were killed when the authorities used force to crush a wave of demonstrations in Khartoum. Censorship has continued ever since, with newspapers often being suspended or issues being confiscated.

Today, the authorities seized all copies of the latest issue of Al-Jareeda, an independent daily that has been the target of repeated intimidation. One of its journalists, Hassan Ishaq, has been detained since 10 June.

In July, the Sudan Tribune quoted information minister Yasir Youssef as openly saying that the national political situation did not permit respect for media freedom in Sudan.

Sudan is ranked 172nd out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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