September 4, 2002
His Excellency Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan al-Bashir
President of the Republic of Sudan
c/o Charges d'Affaires Khedr Haroun
Embassy of the Republic of Sudan
2210 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D. C. 20006
Via facsimile: (202) 667-2406
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is writing to protest the detention of Sudanese journalist Osman Merghani, a columnist for the Khartoum-based daily Al-Rai Al-Aam newspaper.
According to sources in Sudan, Merghani was contacted by authorities on September 3, and told to report to the general security offices that evening. Merghani had appeared on a program on the Qatar-based satellite channel al-Jazeera on September 2. During the program, which dealt with the suspension of the Sudanese peace talks between the government and a rebel group, Merghani criticized the Sudanese government for bowing out of the negotiations. The peace talks are aimed at ending a civil war that has lasted for nearly two decades.
As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide, CPJ views the detention of Osman Merghani as a grave threat to press freedom in Sudan. Journalists should never be detained for expressing their opinions.
We urge Your Excellency to do everything within your power to ensure that Merghani is released immediately and allowed to continue his professional duties without further harassment.
Thank you for your attention in the matter. We await your reply.