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Sudan’s ruling party denies setback in press freedom

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June 7, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in Sudan defended the decision of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) to suspend al-Saiha newspaper owned by al-Tayeb Mustafa who is the maternal uncle of President Omer Hassan al-Bashir.

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Al-Saiha newspaper Logo (mugrn.net)

The state minister at the Ministry of Information and NCP spokesman Yasser Youssef rejected accusations that they backpedalled on freedoms noting Bashir’s previous decree in the framework of his national dialogue call that removed several restrictions.

"We have 21 political newspapers, if one newspaper was suspended, does this mean that we recoiled on liberties? " Youssef asked at a press conference.

He stressed that there are no liberties without restrictions and that laws are designed to organize things adding that suspending al-Saiha was in accordance with the law.

“Law is above all and its authority is to enforce freedoms and not to take it away,” Youssef asserted.

Several of the journalists in attendance Youssef’s pres conference held signs calling for al-Saiha to be reinstated.

On May 17, NISS suspended al-Saiha indefinitely. The decision came against the background of publishing several stories on corruption cases within government institutions. The famous amongst which was the corruption accusation against the current undersecretary of the justice ministry, Esam al-Din abdel-Gadir.

NISS filed charges against 13 of Al-Saiha’s journalists at the state security prosecution. Those journalists are being summoned on a daily basis for charges relating to news reports and columns written during the newspaper’s short lifespan.

On May 28, the office of Sudan’s state security prosecutor led a raid on the headquarters of al-Saiha. The state security prosecutor Yasser Ahmed Mohamed said the raid was carried out over suspicion of violation of Article 55 of the Criminal Code which prohibits circulating government documents outside the official channels.

Regarding the second media conference called for by the government, Youssef said that "the government does not have a preset position or recommendations prior to the conference”.

(ST)

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