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Two journalists jailed for a month for defamation after refusing to pay fine

Osman Mirgani, editor of the
Osman Mirgani, editor of the "Al-Tayyar" newspaper, sits at his office in Khartoum, Sudan, 25 February 2017

ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 20 March 2018.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the release of Ashraf Abdelaziz, the editor of the independent daily Al-Jareeda, and Hassan Warag, one of his reporters, who were jailed by the Khartoum Press and Publications Court last week after being convicted of defaming a local government official.

Sentenced on 15 March 2018 to a fine of 935 US dollars each or to a month in prison, the two journalists were taken to Omdurman prison to begin serving the jail sentence after they refused to pay the fine. The defamation case was bought by a local government official in Hasaheisa, a town 140km southeast of Khartoum, over an article published on 20 November 2017 accusing the official of acquiring land illegally.

"We call for the immediate release of the two Al-Jareeda journalists," said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF's Africa desk. "The repeated harassment of the Sudanese media by judicial authorities and intelligence agents is extremely worrying and is reducing the already extremely low level of press freedom."

The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) has meanwhile been restricting distribution of Al-Jareeda and another daily, Al-Tayyar, since 7 March. Each day's issue is not allowed to leave the place where it is printed until 6 a.m., which means that people living far from Khartoum are being denied access to information.

Sudan is ranked 174th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

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