May 24, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – A journalist working for al-Khartoum daily newspaper who was arrested by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) before being released late on Friday said he was subjected to torture while in custody.
- Officers from the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on parade in Khartoum on 3 December 2013 (ST)
Amir al-Sunni Bannaga was taken into custody during his coverage of demonstrations staged by supporters of the National Umma Party (NUP) on Friday to protest the arrest of their leader al-Sadiq al-Mahdi.
He told the Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) network that he was abused by NISS despite showing them his credentials and explanation that he was given the task by his newspaper to cover the NUP protests.
"But in spite of that, I was not treated properly and was subjected to mental and physical stress. I was forced to sit on the floor with my head down against a wall without letting me have water and they threatened my personal safety," al-Sunni said.
He said that an NISS officer told him that journalists are nothing but gossipers seeking to create sedition and have no respect to the Rapid Support Force (RSF) which protects the nation.
JHR said that al-Sunni was taken to one of the NISS houses in Omdurman where he was beaten by a water hose and subjected to verbal abuse and psychological torture during his five hour detention.
Al-Sunni also claimed that NISS hacked into his email and Facebook account.
The RSF militia, which is widely known as the Janjaweed militias, were originally mobilized by the Sudanese government to quell the insurgency that broke out in Sudan’s western region of Darfur in 2003.
The militia was activated and restructured again in August last year under the NISS command to fight rebel groups in Darfur region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states following joint attacks by Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebels in North and South Kordofan in April 2013.
NUP leader was arrested last week, days after he was called for questioning by state prosecutors over statements he made accusing this paramilitary unit of committing abuses against civilians in Darfur and Kordofan regions.
Furthermore, the Sudanese presidency on Monday delivered a firm warning to media outlets on its coverage of certain items that poses a danger to national security and the country as a whole.
It threatened swift action against any press outlet breaching the "red line".
A day after, al-Saiha daily newspaper was suspended indefinitely on direct orders from NISS director Mohamed Atta Abbas al-Moula.
The minister of information and government spokesperson Ahmed Bilal Osman said that they are prepared to shut down more newspapers that works on raising confusion and dissension in the country.
He further warned against verbal abuse of the armed forces and the NISS, stressing that the armed forces and security are red lines that should not be breached.