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US messaging software made unavailable in Sudan


May 24, 2009 (WASHINGTON) – A US computer industry giant has moved to prevent Sudanese from using a messaging service, citing its obligations under the US sanctions regime against Sudan.

The software, Microsoft’s Windows Live Messenger, allows users to chat directly with one another, send photos, play games or send messages to mobile phones. The Messenger is widely used by the Sudanese diaspora to contact their families and until last week had been available for free downloading in the countries targeted by US sanctions.

Users in Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan and North Korea can no longer use the service and will receive an error message when trying to log into any existing account, the company disclosed at a support webpage.

In a statement on the webpage Friday, the company said “Microsoft has discontinued providing Instant Messenger services in certain countries subject to United States sanctions. Details of these sanctions are available from the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control.”

The United States has maintained economic sanctions against Sudan since 1997, under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, with further measures taken during the administration of George W. Bush.

The regulations prohibit exportation of services from the United States to Sudan. The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) reported to Congress in January that in the period May 2007 through May 2008 it had blocked 65 transactions totalling over $1,117,000, and US banks rejected 576 such transactions, resulting in a disruption of at least $133.2 million in business for Sudan.

However, the Office of Foreign Assets Control has a record of failing to enforce the sanctions measures. Adam Szubin, the head of the OFAC, opposed legislation designed to discourage international corporations from doing business in the Sudan.

Szubin told Reuters in February 2008 that his office was investigating violators of the sanctions — both US companies and foreign companies operating from inside the United States — but a Treasury spokesman, John Rankin, in March 2008 declined to comment on any part of a Sudan Tribune inquiry about the investigations.

Then in January 2009, the US Department of Justice revealed that the OFAC had failed to prevent falsified outgoing US wire transfers made by the bank Lloyds TSB in both the United Kingdom and Dubai, to customers from Sudan and Iran, beginning in 1995 and continuing until the beginning of 2007.

The British bank admitted its misconduct and agreed to pay $350 million in fines in the case.

US sanctions against Sudan originated in American opposition to Sudan’s associations with organizations like the one headed by Osama Bin Laden, who lived in Sudan from 1992 to 1996.


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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 25 May 2009 09:07, by Hillary B.M.L,M

    This is bad news if put in to action.

    repondre message

    • 25 May 2009 16:13, by Nyaku

      Hi Mr Hillary,

      See you have identify yourself, why pretend to be a Southerner.


      repondre message

  • 25 May 2009 17:16, by J. Noon

    What rules the world is two main things " *Mobile phones* *e-mails* " how? Mobiles phone calls can be monitored, this includes even at the level of politicians who lead any country in the world.

    E-mails is the same thing because these kind of communications also increases the level of tolerance of current issues in socities, but the fact is this doesn’t make a difference as a Sudanese socities are one of the most migrated socities in the world there will be no miss out of whatever, this makes us even wiser because we will always need to think about why, how, who, when etc as we
    learned from previous sanctions or being in the blacklist.

    repondre message

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