A screen shot from AFP TV shows Sudanese demonstrators protesting in Khartoum on Friday. (AFP)
A screen shot from AFP TV shows Sudanese demonstrators protesting in Khartoum on Friday. (AFP)

In Sudan, journalists detained after covering protests

New York, July 9, 2012–Sudanese authorities must immediately release two journalists who were taken into custody nearly a week ago after covering anti-government protests in Khartoum, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The whereabouts or any charges against the journalists have not been disclosed.

Security agents arrested Shaimaa Adel, an Egyptian editor for El-Watan, a private Egyptian daily, and Marwa al-Tigany, a Sudanese freelance journalist who writes for a local news website, on July 3 at an Internet café, according to El-Watan. Adel and al-Tigany, who were arrested along with political activist Yusra Abdallah, had been covering protests in Sudan that began on June 16 at the University of Khartoum, according to news reports. Protests have spread to other parts of the country, and security forces have responded harshly, dispersing demonstrators with tear gas and rubber bullets, arresting and beating hundreds, and attacking journalists, according to news reports.

Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry al-Youm reported today that the Sudanese Journalists Syndicate said it had been told by Sudanese authorities that Adel was in good health, but the government in Sudan has not publicly disclosed any information on either journalist’s condition.

“Sudan believes it can silence reporting of political unrest by disappearing journalists into an informational black hole,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “The families of Shaimaa Adel and Marwa al-Tigany do not even know if their loved ones are safe. This is truly cruel. We hold the Sudanese authorities responsible for the welfare and safety of these two journalists and call for their immediate release.”

In a statement on its website, El-Watan called on journalists and human rights defenders to join them in an organized march on Tuesday from the Egyptian Journalists’ Syndicate to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cairo to demand Adel’s release. El-Watan also said that its staff plans to march to the ministry to demand greater involvement by Egyptian authorities in securing her release. Dozens of journalists also demonstrated at the Sudanese embassy in Cairo and the syndicate over the weekend, calling for Adel’s release, according to news reports.

The English-language daily The Egypt Independent reported that Amr Roshdy, a spokesman for the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Mohamed Kamel Amr, Egypt’s foreign minister, had urged his Sudanese counterpart to release Adel and allow her to return to Egypt. Roshdy also said the ministry would continue to follow the case until her release.

Authorities in Sudan have stepped up their harassment of journalists in recent weeks. On Friday, security agents from the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) briefly detained two journalists from Al-Jazeera, the broadcaster reported. Imad Abdel Hadi, a correspondent, and Yasser Suleiman, a cameraman, were both arrested and beaten in custody and Hadi’s mobile phone was confiscated, the report said. Al-Arabiya told Agence-France Presse that its crew had been briefly detained in Khartoum on Friday and its cameraman “roughed up,” AFP reported.

Adel is the second Egyptian journalist to be arrested in Sudan in the past two weeks. On June 21, CPJ documented the arrest of Salma el-Wardany, a reporter for Bloomberg, who was released several hours later and deported on June 26. CPJ also documented the arrest of three more journalists; a raid by security forces on the AFP bureau in Khartoum; and the blocking of at least three critical websites.

  • For more data and analysis on Sudan, visit CPJ’s Sudan page here.