January 14, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese security service yesterday suspended the publication of an independent newspaper and closed its office after it published statements this week favourable to the former leader of the Darfur rebels - the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) - who was killed last month.
- Khalil Ibrahim
The decision to shut down the independent daily comes eleven days after the closure of a newspaper affiliated to an opposition party on 2 January.
Al-Wan, a daily newspaper has previously been closed several times by the security service, for different reasons. Its publisher and editor-in-chief Hussein Khogli is seen by the security service as close supporter to Hassan al-Turabi, the leader of the Islamist opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP).
The head of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) has ordered the closure of the Al-Wan’s building, and suspended the daily from publication as well as seize all its properties, the Sudan Media Centre a news service close to the security services, said Friday.
The NISS said it has lodged a complaint against Al-Wan on Wednesday 11 January after it published statements by a Sudanese Islamist, Libabah al-Fadel, supporting JEM and glorifying its former leader Khalil Ibrahim.
Libabah is a professor at the University of Khartoum and has been supportive of Turabi since the 1999 division among the Sudanese Islamists when Turabi was ousted from the government. She was seen crying after the death of Khalil Ibrahim saying he is a "martyr who died as brave man".
On 15 May 2008, NISS also closed the Al-Wan and ordered its closure on the grounds that it published military information following JEM’s attack of Omdurman on 10 May 2008. The paper was allowed to resume publication in March 2010.
Earlier this month, the NISS shut down Rai al Shaab newspaper affiliated with Popular Congress Party. The decision of the security services was also motivated by an interview with the brother of Khalil Ibrahim and eventual new leader of the rebel group Gibril Ibrahim.
The Sudanese media have suffered multiple blows in recent months with five English publications were suspended in July 2011. The reason given was that publishers are required to be Sudanese citizens, and South Sudanese are now considered “foreigners” according to the law.
On 27 July 2011, the Sudanese National Council for Press and Publications revoked the license of the daily newspaper Ajras Al-Hurriya, which was pro the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-N) an opposition group whose southern sector govern newly independent South Sudan.
The independent newspaper Al-Jarida was also suspended on 27 September 2011.
Since the start of the conflict in Blue Nile (August 2011) and South Kordofan (June 2011) the authorities have imposed a news blackout on the situation in these areas, and banned the media from publishing anything about the SPLM-N.
Al-Midan newspaper, pro-Communist Party publication, was confiscated at least eight times in 2011 for publishing items related to these areas.
Many journalists were taken to court recently such as Fatima Ghazali, from Al-Jarida newspaper and Amal Habani and other three columnists who faced charges brought by NISS because they commented on the alleged rape case of the activist Safia Ishaq in February 2011.
Amal Habani was sacked from Al-Jarida newspaper in March 2011. The publisher told her that she was dismissed because of her political activities he was facing difficulties with the authorities, and that he was finding it difficult to attract advertising.