Editor charged with criminal defamation

New York, October 14, 2008–The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about a criminal lawsuit that has been filed against the editor of The Citizen newspaper in Southern Sudan and calls on authorities to drop the case immediately.

Nhial Bol, editor of The Citizen, told CPJ he is facing a criminal charge for an October 7 article about corruption in the Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development of the government of Southern Sudan, he said. Bol said the article had compared the salaries of officials at the ministry to the equivalent salaries in Khartoum, and found that they were higher in the south.

On Saturday, Bol was arrested and detained in Juba, the regional capital of Southern Sudan, for three days. He was released today on bail.

“We are alarmed that our colleague is facing a criminal charge,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “The authorities have unjustly gone after an editor who has fairly carried out his job as a journalist. We call on them to drop these overblown charges immediately.”

The date of the trial has not been set yet, Bol said.

This is not the first time that The Citizen has faced government persecution. On September2, the newspaper was suspended after the editor-in-chief refused an order from the National Publication and Press Council to dismiss Izzadine Abdul-Rasoul, the paper’s managing editor, because he was from the western region of Darfur, according to local and international news reports. The newspaper resumed publication on September 27.