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South Sudan releases two journalists without charges

November 18, 2011 (JUBA) – South Sudanese security services released today two journalists arrested 18 days ago without charges, one of the two detainees Peter Ngor Arol Garang told Sudan Tribune just after his release.

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Sudan Tribune journalist Ngor Garang (ST)

Ngor who is a Sudan Tribune journalist and the editor-in-chief of the newly established The Destiny newspaper had been arrested on 1 November after the publication of an opinion article written by Dengdit Ayok criticising the South Sudan President, Salva Kiir Mayadrit, for allowing his daughter to marry with an Ethiopian national.

His colleague Dengdit was arrested on 5 November.

"I have just been released without charges after spending 18 days in closed detention," wrote Ngor after his release in a short email he sent to the Sudan Tribune. He thanked all those who contributed in a way or another for his release.

International and local human rights and press freedom groups condemned the illegal arrest of the two journalists and called for their release. Also, the South Sudan delegate to the United Nations was questioned by journalists about his arrest.

The two journalists were held in a detention facility run by the security service in Juba and no formal charge had been made against them.

Sources close to the file, told Sudan Tribune three days ago that their case had been decided to transfer them to the police.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir slammed the two journalists saying in remarks he made about their arrest on 10 November "media freedom should not be abused to the extent of attacking personalities. In any case that will be defamation."

In a statement issued Friday to announce their release Amnesty International said “Ngor had been beaten" by the security services.

"He and Dengdit Ayok are now reunited with their families, and will go for a medical check-up in Juba on 19 November."

Dr. Dhieu Mathok, another editor of The Destiny said the practice of arresting journalists in South Sudan needed to stop.

"This is a great mistake to arrest a journalists and released him without
charges", he said, urging the young nation to "protect press freedom”.

This year there have been at least attacks on press freedom in South Sudan according to the country’s union of journalists. Despite having self rule since 2005 the SPLM, South Sudan’s ruling party has not passed an Information and Broadcasting, leaving many journalists unclear as to where they stand and what they are allowed to write.

(ST)