Letters   |   Sudan

CPJ Expresses Dismay Over Alleged Torture of Journalist

May 7, 1999

His Excellency Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan al-Bashir
President of the Republic of Sudan
c/o His Excellency Ambassador Mahdi Ibrahim Muhammad
Embassy of the Republic of Sudan
2210 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D. C. 20006




Your Excellency,

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is writing to express our grave concern that Muhammad Abdel Sid remains in detention despite government claims that he has been released. We are also greatly alarmed by allegations that he may have been tortured while in detention.

Abdel Sid, a correspondent for the London-based daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat, was detained by Sudanese security authorities on or about April 14. CPJ wrote to Your Excellency on April 20, protesting his incommunicado detention and that of two other journalists- Abdel Qader Hafez, a correspondent for the Saudi Arabian daily Al-Jazeera, and Maha Hassan Ali, an editor for the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA).

Both Hafez and Ali have since been released, but CPJ has learned that Abdel Sid remains in the custody of Sudanese authorities despite official statements to the contrary. Citing sources close to Abdel Sid's family, Al-Sharq al-Awsat reported that Abdel Sid "was subjected to torture by members of the security apparatus and transferred to Kober Hospital in Khartoum. His family has not seen him since he was arrested last month, nor has his lawyer."

Reports published in the Sudanese press following his detention have suggested that Abdel Sid was arrested for allegedly "spying" on behalf of a foreign country. SUNA reported that the journalist was arrested in accordance with the "national security law." CPJ, however, is unaware of any formal charges against Abdel Sid.

We fear that Muhammad Abdel Sid's arrest stems from his work as a journalist and violates international freedom of expression guarantees. The Committee to Protect Journalists, a nongovernmental organization of journalists dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide, urges his immediate and unconditional release, unless it can be shown that he has committed a criminal offense recognizable under international law. If he is guilty of a criminal offense, we urge the Sudanese government to make public the charges against him and guarantee his right to due process, specifically access to legal counsel.

Lastly, we call on the Sudanese government to initiate an immediate investigation into the reported injuries sustained by Muhammad Abdel Sid during his detention and guarantee his physical safety against ill-treatment.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We look forward to your prompt reply.

Sincerely,

Ann K. Cooper
Executive Director.






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His Excellency Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan al-Bashir
President of the Republic of Sudan
c/o His Excellency Ambassador Mahdi Ibrahim Muhammad
Embassy of the Republic of Sudan
2210 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D. C. 20006

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