25 January 2013

Sudan: Intelligence Service Seizes Arab-Language Daily in Latest Act of Censorship

Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns the seizure of the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Sudani by Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), the latest act of media censorship in Sudan.

Fourteen thousand copies of the pro-government daily were seized two days ago, without any reason being given. The newspaper, once independent and critical of the government, was bought by a member of the ruling National Congress Party and ever since has reflected the political views of its owner.

"Media censorship remains widespread in Sudan," Reporters Without Borders said. "In 2012, we recorded the seizures of 20-plus newspapers by the intelligence and security services. The latter have stepped up their activities and intensified their onslaught on freedom of information. Pro-government newspapers, which had previously escaped censorship, are now targets too, and forced to exercise self-censorship."

The intelligence and security services offered no explanation for the seizure of Al-Sudani, but political developments appeared to be at the root of their action. Sudan's main opposition parties met in the Ugandan capital Kampala on 5 January to discuss ways of strengthening their common struggle against the Khartoum government.

The government subsequently took action against its opponents, with the intelligence and security services banning the media from reporting anything about the agreement signed at the Kampala meeting.

Sudan is 170th of 179 countries in the 2011-2012 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, and sits firmly among the 10 countries that show the least regard for freedom of information.

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