Sudanese editor charged with terrorism and espionage

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.