New York, August 30, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release of a jailed journalist in Sudan, but is troubled by reports of the continued detention of at least eight others without charge. President Omar al-Bashir had announced Saturday that he would free all journalists detained in Sudan.
Obeid Marawih, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told CNN that Jafaar al-Subki Ibrahim, a reporter for the private daily Al-Sahafa, who has been held incommunicado and without charge since November 2010, was released on Sunday. Marawih also told CNN that “to my knowledge, there are no other journalists detained.” But CPJ has received reports that at least eight journalists remain in detention, some believed to have worked for the outlawed Radio Dabanga. All are believed to have reported on Darfur, a highly sensitive topic for the government.
“We welcome the release of Jafaar al-Subki Ibrahim after so many months’ imprisonment without due process,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “But President Omar al-Bashir must do more. He must ensure the unconditional and immediate release of all journalists.”
Al-Bashir’s announcement was made at a Saturday dinner with local journalists who requested pardons for their colleagues to coincide with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, local and international news reports said. No official pardon has been made by the government, leaving unclear which journalists might be freed and which would remain in prison.
In November, after a wave of arrests, the government shut down Radio Dabanga’s office in Khartoum and banned the station, local and international human rights groups said. The station, operating from the Netherlands, is an independent radio channel that still reports news and information about Darfur.
CPJ has frequently reported on Sudan’s continuous attacks on press freedom, which includes the targeting of individual journalists and publications through contrived legal proceedings, politicized criminal charges, and several newspaper confiscations, the latest of which occurred earlier this month.