Washington, D.c. — Sudan's military rulers yesterday ordered the Khartoum bureau of Al-Jazeera to be shut down and banned its staff from working in the country, the Qatari-broadcaster said today. Forces yesterday raided the outlet without providing a reason and confiscated work permits for staff and broadcasting equipment, Hassan Saeed Elmogummer Taha, an Al-Jazeera news producer based in Qatar, told CPJ.
The raid came hours after Major General Othman Hamed, who heads the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, threatened to disperse a sit-in that helped oust former President Omar al-Bashir, calling the continued demonstration a "threat to the revolution" and a hub for criminals, according to news reports. Since Bashir's ouster last month, a transitional military council has ruled Sudan, while protesters continue to call for a civilian government.
"The raid and closure of Al-Jazeera's Khartoum bureau is a worrying sign that Sudan's military rulers intend to suppress coverage of pro-democracy events," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Coordinator Sherif Mansour. "This action belies military leaders' statements that they intend to serve and protect the public; they should immediately reverse course and allow Al-Jazeera to operate freely."
In January, Sudanese security officials revoked the credentials of international journalists who covered protests against Bashir, including correspondents for Al-Jazeera and Al Arabiya, the outlets reported.