Journalist arrested in Sudan, held without charge

New York, October 28, 2014–The National Intelligence and Security Services in Sudan arrested a journalist on Thursday in Khartoum and has held him without charge since, according to news reports. Al-Nour Ahmed al-Nour is the Sudan correspondent for the pan-Arab London-based newspaper Al-Hayat and also works as a columnist for the Sudanese independent daily Al-Taghyeer.

“Sudanese authorities must provide a reason for al-Nour Ahmed al-Nour’s arrest or release him at once,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa coordinator, Sherif Mansour. “The government has a long record of arresting journalists, harassing media outlets, and suppressing news, and this detention without charge smacks of another attempt at censorship and intimidation.”

Al-Nour was arrested outside the offices of Al-Taghyeer and taken to NISS headquarters, according to reports. His brother said he received a text message from him saying he had been arrested, the reports said. He is being held at Kober prison in Khartoum, according to news reports citing the Union of Sudanese Journalists and other sources.

Al-Nour’s wife said that security forces told her the arrest stemmed from a complaint by an official in Sudan’s Ministry of Water Resources and Electricity, according to Al-Jazeera. The report said the official accused the journalist of fabricating information for a story on a Facebook page called Sudan News that said the president had ordered electric companies to merge. The Ministry of Water Resources and Electricity denied that there was a presidential order.

Al-Nour’s wife said that security forces told her the journalist faces criminal charges, according to Al-Jazeera. No official charges have been filed yet, according to Al-Hayat and other reports.

Senior editors and journalists protested in front of the National Press Council in Khartoum, calling for al-Nour’s release. Following a conversation with journalists and al-Nour’s wife, the head of the media committee in the Sudanese Parliament said al-Nour’s arrest was political and suspicious, according to Al-Hayat.

Al-Nour has reported for Al-Hayat from Sudan on politics and human rights, among other topics. In April 2013, al-Nour said the NISS had told him he had been suspended from his position as editor-in-chief of the independent daily Al-Sahafa. He said two NISS agents told him he was being suspended because he had insulted the security apparatus. The next day, al-Nour said, his name was removed from the paper’s masthead.