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Sudan’s NISS allows al-Saiha newspaper to resume publication

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July 1, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on Tuesday informed al-Tayeb Mustafa, the owner of al-Saiha newspaper, that the daily can now resume publication after more than a month of suspension.

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Journalists demonstrate outside the press and publication council against the closure of two Islamist newspapers Alwan and al-Rai al-Shaab in Khartoum February 7, 2012 (Reuters)

The editor-in-chief of al-Saiha, Yasser Mahjoub Hussein, told Sudan Tribune that they signed a pledge to the NISS that the newspaper will adhere to professionalism and accurate reporting and abide by the constitution and laws while taking into account national security.

Hussein defended their pledge, saying it does not breach journalistic norms and revealed that the deal was a result of Bakri Hassan Salih, Sudan’s first vice-president, instructing NISS officials to sit down with the newspaper’s management to resolve the dispute.

Last May, NISS director Mohamed Atta Abbas al-Moula ordered the suspension of al-Saiha after it published stories on corruption at the justice ministry. The famous amongst which was the corruption accusation against the current undersecretary of the justice ministry, Esam al-Din abdel-Gadir.

The Sudanese minister of information Ahmed Bilal Osman said at the time that the NISS has the legal right to suspend al-Saiha and any media raising confusion and dissension in the country.

The state security prosecution led a raid on the headquarters of al-Saiha, following the suspension over suspicion of violation of Article 55 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits circulating government documents outside the official channels.

But Hussein insisted that avoiding corruption stories was not incorporated in the pledge they signed with the NISS.

The security apparatus enjoys far reaching powers in Sudan and is entitled under the National Security Act to shut down newspapers and confiscate an entire edition. It also sends its officers to screen stories before they go to print.

On Tuesday, the NISS confiscated today’s editions of al-Taghyeer and al-Akhbar newspapers.

Al-Saiha editor-in-chief said that even though the NISS told them they can return to work on Wednesday, logistical considerations forces them to delay it till Sunday.

The NISS media department welcomed the return of al-Saiha and urged it to continue to discharge its mission with professionalism and responsibility, and noted the critical importance of balancing between freedom and responsibility “for the benefit the nation and the stability of society".

Hussein said that the newspaper incurred heavy financial losses due to suspension and said that frustration dominated the editors during that time, as well adding that the staff was jubilant over the NISS decision.

He has previously estimated the financial losses at 30,000 pounds.

(ST)

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