BEIRUT

Middle East

Two newspapers seized in Sudan: editors

KHARTOUM: State security agents in Sudan confiscated the Sunday print runs of two independent newspapers, senior editors said, adding to concerns over press freedom in the country.

The editors from Al-Sahafa and Al-Jarida told AFP that security officers took all the copies after printing, but gave no reason.

Confiscating newspapers after they roll off the presses is a common tactic of Sudan's security service, causing financial losses for publishers in an industry struggling for revenue. Some Sudanese newspapers have gone out of business this year.

Journalists and press freedom advocates say a media crackdown has intensified since last year as tensions with neighboring South Sudan have escalated.

They complain that, in addition to the seizure of printed newspapers, journalists have been banned from writing and some newspapers ordered to stop publishing.

Journalists were also among those detained when anti-regime demonstrations sparked by high inflation occurred in June and July.

Edries Al-Doma, deputy chief editor of Al-Jarida, said a censor visited his newspaper every day prior to the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr but stopped coming after the holiday which ended about 10 days ago.

"Mainly they censor the stories related to security issues," said Hassan Al-Batari, editorial manager of Al-Sahafa.

The U.N. expert on human rights in Sudan, Mashood Adebayo Baderin, in June highlighted concerns about Sudanese press freedom.

He said people had raised with him the issue, "with particular reference being made to the use of national security laws to clamp down on the press, including closure of media houses, arrest of journalists and confiscation of newspapers."

Vice President Al-Haj Adam Youssef told reporters in August that freedom of expression has greatly improved in Sudan over the past two decades but, as in any country, the government cannot allow the media to serve the interests of those who would destroy the state.

Sudan ranks 170 out of 179 countries on an index of press freedom compiled by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders watchdog.

 
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