Sudan detains and threatens Bloomberg correspondent

New York, July 17, 2013–A Bloomberg correspondent working in Sudan has reported being threatened and assaulted after being detained arbitrarily by authorities in late June. Michael Gunn told CPJ that he fled the country on July 2 fearing for his life.

“Sudanese authorities assaulted and threatened an international journalist, with apparent impunity and with the effect of preventing the reporter from carrying out his duties,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa Coordinator Sherif Mansour said. “Michael Gunn should be allowed to work freely in Sudan without fear of harassment.”

Gunn, 35, a Scottish national, told CPJ he is accredited by the Sudanese government and has been in the country covering a wide range of issues, including economic and political news, since November.

Gunn told CPJ that he was covering a meeting held by the Umma opposition party in the Khartoum neighborhood of Omdurman on June 29 when he was grabbed by police agents in plainclothes. He said he was hit several times, his bag and pockets searched, and his shirt pulled over his head before he was thrown into the back of a truck with several Sudanese citizens.

Gunn said the assailants took him to a building where he saw several men dressed in police uniforms. He said a man in plainclothes told him in English that if it were up to him, the journalist would be killed, but that they had to wait for instructions from security personnel.

The journalist said that he was then blindfolded and interrogated for three hours about what he was doing in Sudan. He said he was slapped several times during the interrogation and that he was ordered to unlock his smartphone. Gunn said that after the interrogation was over, he was put back in a truck and released on a nearby street.

CPJ’s messages left with Sudanese authorities were not immediately returned.

Sudanese authorities have frequently harassed journalists in the past. In June, authorities detained for three days a Sudanese reporter and interrogated him on allegations of harming the morale of the armed forces. The same month, authorities ordered a local printing press to stop the publication and distribution of three newspapers. The papers continued to publish online.

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