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Sudanese security apparatus seizes copies of two newspapers

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June 18, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) seized print runs of al-Tayar and al-Jareeda newspapers on Thursday without stating reasons.

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Members of Sudanese Journalists Network (SJN) hold banners outside the National Council for Press and Publication (NCPP) premises in Khartoum in protest against repeated seizure of newspapers, on May 26, 2015 (ST photo)

Sudanese newspapers frequently complain of fierce clampdown carried out by NISS that include confiscation, suspension and pre-publication censorship. They assert that these measures are used by authorities to overburden the newspapers with financial losses alongside other non-financial pressures.

In February, NISS seized entire print runs of 14 newspapers in one day without stating the reasons for its decision.

The security apparatus accuses newspapers of breaching the "red lines" by publishing news affecting the national security of the country.

The chief editor of al-Jareeda newspaper Ashraf Abdel-Aziz told Sudan Tribune that he will reach out the NISS media department to find out the reason behind the confiscation decision today.

But Abdul Aziz speculated that the statements they published by the state secretary at the Ministry of Health in which she claimed that 80% of drugs in the country are "unsafe" and explained that they highlighted the story on their front page with the title "80% of drugs are counterfeited".

He said that an NISS officer at the economic security department called him and told him that the word “counterfeited” is sensational.

Sudanese newspapers are now censored for stories related to social and service issues after the focus in the past was on political, security and military affairs.

However, the mass confiscations has become the new NISS style in punishing newspapers with the most recent one being last month that affected 10 newspapers because of a story on cases of sexual harassment and rape in school buses.

Four of those newspapers were suspended indefinitely.

Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) network said in a report last May that during the period from May 3, 2014 to May 2, 2015 there were 66 cases of confiscation or suspensions against Sudanese newspapers and 13 physical attacks on journalists.

(ST)

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