American photographer detained

New York, April 27, 2005—
Sudanese security forces in Darfur, Sudan, detained an American freelance photographer yesterday as he photographed a refugee camp.

Hartford-based Brad Clift is under house arrest at a United States Agency for International Development office building after being detained in Nyala in the Darfur region of Sudan, the daily Hartford Courant reported. He is unable to leave until a hearing by Sudanese officials is convened.

Clift was taking photographs in an internally displaced persons camp when he was picked up, according to Thom McGuire, the Courant’s assistant managing editor for photo and graphics. McGuire told CPJ that Clift, who has not been charged, was supposed to appear before a judge today in Nyala but that the hearing was postponed.

Clift called a colleague at the paper yesterday from a mobile phone and said he was “accused unjustly for trying to take a picture of someone suffering in a camp.”

Clift works for the Hartford Courant but was in Sudan as a freelancer, traveling with a relief group called Hartford Catholic Worker that was distributing food at camps around Nyala.

“Sudanese authorities have not explained why they are holding a working photographer against his will, but we believe Brad Clift is being detained for his professional work,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “He should be released immediately.”

Since the conflict in Darfur broke out in early 2003, tens of thousands of people from western Sudan have been killed by government-supported militias, and up to two million displaced from their homes. Sudanese authorities have tried to suppress reports of atrocities there by obstructing the work of foreign journalists who cover the region, according to CPJ research.