State security agents seized today’s edition of the Sudanese Communist Party’s al-Midan newspaper in the latest move against media criticial of the government, an assistant to the editor-in-chief said.
“We were given no explanation for the raid, but the assault is part of an intensive crackdown on media in Sudan,” Adel Ibrahim said by phone from Khartoum, the capital. Al-Midan was suspended from June to August 2010 for its election coverage and reports of alleged corruption in President Umar al-Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party, he said.
Al-Obaid Murawih, the secretary-general of Press and Publications Council and spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, didn’t answer phone calls seeking comment.
Security agents have closed down the Islamist newspapers Alwan and al-Rai al-Shaab this year, Nabil Adib, a human-rights lawyer, said today. The authorities seized the Feb. 20 edition of al-Tayar newspaper for publishing an article by columnist Mohamed Zein el-Abbeddin that criticized al-Bashir, the security forces and companies owned by the ruling party.
El-Abbeddin was arrested on the same day, and the paper was suspended from Feb. 22 to March 4, when the columnist was released.
Sudan’s 2009 press law gives security agents the right to decide “whether a certain topic represents a threat to public security and order,” Murawih said Oct. 26. The Press and Publications Council has the power to shut down newspapers for three days without a court order.
Al-Bashir, in a March 11 interview with the Qatari newspaper al-Rai, said the Sudanese press is free to criticize the government.
“Freedoms are guaranteed for the people in Sudan, our regime doesn’t suppress freedoms,” he said. “People have the freedom to speak out, criticize and even slam the government. There’s no such repression in Sudan.”
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