Sudan: Govt Blocks Hurriyat Online Newspaper

Photo: Al Jazeera
A group of protesters demonstrating against government's austerity measures last week. The government in Khartoum has reacted strongly by illegally detaining students and activists and stifling media coverage of the protests which originated in response to government economic policies.

Khartoum — Online Arabic newspaper Hurriyat Sudan has reported that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has blocked its website since June 25, following its coverage of protests in Khartoum and other towns.

The protests over the last week have spread from university students to some members of the wider population. Activists are promoting Friday June 29 as large demonstration to mark the anniversary of current regime coming to power on June 30 1989.

The press in Sudan has been restricted during the protests and journalists and activists arrested by the National Security and Intelligence Services (NISS).

On Tuesday June 26, Sudan deported Bloomberg's correspondent in Khartoum, Salma El Wardany, and briefly detained Maha El Sanousi, a prominent Sudanese blogger.

The two had been detained together for several hours on 21 June. While covering protests at the University of Khartoum on 19 June, Simon Martelli, an AFP journalist, was also detained for 12 hours. Martelli, who was AFP's reporter in Khartoum for the whole of 2011, has since left Khartoum as he was covering for the new AFP correspondent.

In a press release, Hurriyat said that the site's readers in Sudan had informed them that from around 5.30pm local time on 25 June, the site was blocked. The National Telecommunications Commission usually uses its special filtering unit to block pornographic websites.

Hurriyat Sudan's Chief Editor, Elhag Warrag said that blocking its website "is part of a systematic attempt by the Sudanese regime to stop news about anti-government demonstrations reaching the Sudanese people and the world at large."

Sudan's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has accused some websites of launching a campaign to distort the country's image in collaboration with opposition parties and the United States (US).

In the press release Hurriyat encouraged readers to access Hurriyat through its facebook page and inside Sudan by downloading special software from the Ultrasurf website.

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