New York, May 25, 2010—Sudanese authorities have charged an opposition journalist with terrorism and espionage and allegedly tortured him while in custody, according to local news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists called today for the immediate release of Abu Zar al-Amin, deputy editor of the opposition daily Rai al-Shaab.
Khartoum’s prosecutor-general charged al-Amin with “undermining the constitution,” “terrorism and espionage,” “publishing
false news,” “undermining the
prestige of the State,” and “inciting
sedition” on Tuesday, according to
news reports. Al-Amin was arrested
with three of his colleagues on May 16 when security forces closed down the daily because of an
article alleging that Iran
had built a weapons factory in Sudan
to supply insurgents in Africa and the Middle East.
If convicted, al-Amin faces the death penalty, his lawyer Mohamed al-Alim told
CPJ. Al-Alim said the other three newspaper staffers had not been charged yet.
Al-Amin told the
lawyer that he has been severely beaten and that he lost consciousness after being
given electric shocks.
“We are appalled by
the outrageous charges against Abu
Zar al-Amin. Officials may be angry about this unsubstantiated
report, but this is not a criminal matter and there is no justification
whatsoever for this alleged abuse,” said Joel Simon,
CPJ's executive director. “We call on the government to release al-Amin and to investigate
these allegations of torture.”
On Sunday, Rai al-Shaab’s political editor, Ibrahim
al-Tahir, was arrested in connection to the same article at his home in Omdurman, al-Alim told
CPJ. Al-Tahir is in police custody but has not been charged yet.