In Sudan, journalist harassed for reporting on military

New York, June 18, 2013–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the official harassment of Sudanese reporter Khalid Ahmed who was detained for three days this month and then interrogated three times since on broad allegations that he “harmed the morale of the armed forces” and denigrated its leaders.

“A reporter’s job is to document the news, not to boost the morale of the military or avoid insulting its leaders,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “The Sudanese government should stop harassing Khalid Ahmed for trying to report on military clashes in South Kurdofan.”

State security officials arrested Ahmed, reporter for the independent weekly Al-Sudani, on June 4 and detained him in connection with a complaint filed by the Sudanese Armed Forces, according to the journalist. Ahmed told CPJ he had not been allowed to have a lawyer in the three subsequent interrogations.

The complaint against Ahmed cited a report published in Al-Sudani, the journalist told CPJ. The article is no longer available, but according to a post on a Sudanese discussion forum that reproduced the report, the article had described a visit in early June by a top military official to South Kurdofan, a conflict zone between government and rebel forces. The article as reproduced said that rebels had attacked the convoy of the army’s chief of staff, and that resulting clashes had left several soldiers injured and a military aircraft destroyed.

On the same day the article was published, a spokesman for the military said a helicopter had crashed due to mechanical failure, according to news reports.

CPJ research shows that the Sudanese government places severe restrictions on coverage of the rebellion in South Kurdofan, which it says is fueled by the newly independent country of South Sudan.

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