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Sudan arrests 15 journalists during bread price protests: media watchdog

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Demonstrators in Khartoum downtown march to protest against the Sudanese government's subsidies cuts and austerity measures on 16 January 2018 (ST Photo)

January 19, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - The Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RWB) called for the release Sudanese journalists detained after covering recent demonstrations to protest the increase of bread prices.

The National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) arrested 15 journalists for covering two protests on 16 and 17 January in Khartoum and Omdurman towns.

They arbitrary arrest was seen as an attempt form the security apparatus to dissuade the independent local media and international correspondents from covering protests organised by the opposition parties and advertise their activities.

During the first day of protests the security agents 13 journalists including the BBC’s Mohamed Mohamed Osman, Al-Arabiya TV’s Abdulaziz Ibrahim and the Anadolu news agency’s Behram Abdelmunim. Two others - Reuters reporter Khalid Abdel Aziz and AFP reporter Abdel Moneim Abu Idriss - were arrested while covering demonstrations held on 17 January.

In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Friday, the RWB called on the Sudanese authorities to release those who are still held and stop restriction on the press freedom.

“It is clearly arbitrary to be keeping at least eight journalists in detention and we call for their immediate release,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. "The authorities have a duty to guarantee the safety of journalists rather than target them,” he further said.

According to the press watchdog, eight journalists are still in arrest citing Reuters and AFP reports in addition to Shawky Abdelazim, the publisher of the independent daily Al-Youm Al-Tali, Imtinan El Radi, a reporter for the same newspaper, and Hayder Ahmed Khair Alla of the daily Al-Jareeda.

Also, among the detainee Amal Habani, a female reporter for Al-Taghyir news website. She was awarded an Amnesty International prize for her human rights work in Sudan.

"None of them has so far been formally charged," the group stressed.

In a report released on Friday Reuters confirmed that Khalid Abdel Aziz was still held by the Sudanese security service.

"Reuters last had contact with its stringer early on Wednesday before he went to report on the demonstrations which resulted in clashes between police and protesters".

(ST)

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