Sudanese journalist held without charge for a month after covering protests

New York, May 12, 2016–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Sudanese authorities to release Ahmed Zuheir Daoud, a journalist who has been detained for nearly a month without charge. Daoud was arrested on April 13 while reporting on student protests for Al-Midan, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Iman Othman Ali, told CPJ yesterday.

Ali said that Daoud was working at the paper as an intern and was arrested while covering student protests at Khartoum University for the paper. She said that Daoud, who recently graduated from the university, was carrying a press identification card when he was arrested.

“It should not take a whole month for the Sudanese authorities to determine that Ahmed Zuheir Daoud was working as a journalist and should have never been arrested,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour. “Sudanese authorities should immediately release Daoud and allow all journalists to report freely in Sudan.”

The student protest was over plans announced by the Ministry of Tourism to convert some of the university’s buildings to tourist attractions, according to news reports. Government officials denied that the university would be moved.

Dozens of students were detained when protesters and security forces clashed, but most have been released, according to reports. Ali told CPJ that Daoud’s family has been allowed to visit him in prison and has said that he is in good health. CPJ did not previously report on Daoud’s arrest because news reports at the time referred to him only as a student.

The Al-Midan newspaper has previously faced harassment from Sudanese authorities over its critical coverage. The outlet’s former editor-in-chief, Madiha Abdella, told CPJ she is currently facing trial on charges including criminal conspiracy, undermining the constitutional system, encouraging violent or criminal opposition, the publication of false news, and defaming the government.

CPJ has documented how Sudanese authorities have repeatedly confiscated print runs of newspapers, including Al-Midan. Abdelgadir Mohammed Abdelgadir, a freelance journalist and guest blogger for CPJ, wrote a blog post in 2012 about how this tactic censors the news and forces publications to incur significant financial losses. The National Intelligence and Security Services has power to decide what can and cannot be published, Abdelgadir wrote.