Sudan seizes two newspapers as EU urges press freedom

2018-10-04 20:22
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Sudanese security agents confiscated the entire print runs of two newspapers on Thursday, their owners said, days after the European Union and Washington pushed for press freedoms in the African country.

Agents of Sudan's powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) seized copies of Al-Tayar and Al-Jareeda after their editors attended a meeting held by the EU at its office in Khartoum on Tuesday that urged press freedoms in the country.

"They confiscated our newspaper copies without giving any reason," Al-Tayar's owner and editor-in-chief Osman Mirghani told AFP.

"But I had attended the EU meeting, so that could be the reason."

The owner of Al-Jareeda confirmed that security agents had seized about 10 000 copies of his newspaper on Thursday.

"No reason was given and they have called our editor to their office," Awad Mohamed Awad said.

At Tuesday's meeting, several Sudanese journalists had highlighted the challenges faced by the media industry in Sudan, including newspaper seizures by security agents.

A joint statement issued afterwards by European Union ambassadors and US Charge D'Affaires to Khartoum Steven Koutsis called for the strengthening of press freedoms in Sudan.

Sudanese authorities protested about the EU meeting and on Wednesday summoned the EU ambassador to Khartoum to register their complaint.

"The way the meeting was held is against diplomatic behaviour," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Media in Sudan are frequently targeted by NISS agents for their reporting, especially for publishing articles that criticise government polices.

Several journalists were arrested in January when authorities cracked down on anti-government protests triggered by surging food prices.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranked Sudan 174th out of 180 countries on its 2017 world press freedom index, saying that NISS "hounds journalists and censors the print media".

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