New York, March 8, 2019 -- Sudanese authorities must immediately release journalist Osman Mirghani from detention or clarify his whereabouts and the charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Mirghani, editor-in-chief of the independent Sudanese newspaper Al-Tayar, was arrested by agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service, Sudan's federal intelligence service, at the newspaper's office in Khartoum on February 22, according to Agence France-Presse, independent Sudanese broadcaster Radio Dabanga, and Al-Tayar columnist Shamael Elnoor, who spoke with CPJ.
Authorities have not released any information about where Mirghani is being held or what charges may be levied against him, Elnoor told CPJ yesterday. His family has not been allowed to visit him, Elnoor added.
The National Intelligence and Security Service did not respond to questions emailed by CPJ.
"There are no official charges against Osman Mirghani, but we can guess how he has run afoul of authorities: by practicing independent journalism and shedding light on the desperation and malice that have come to typify President Omar al-Bashir's crackdown on dissent," CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said. "Sudanese authorities should free Mirghani immediately and stop trying to solve their grave problems by waging war on the press."
Mirghani was arrested shortly after being interviewed on the Abu Dhabi-based Sky News Arabia network, where he discussed the ongoing protests in Sudan and said they could prompt al-Bashir's removal from office, according to AFP. Earlier that day, al-Bashir had declared a state of emergency in response to nationwide protests, which began in December 2018, Elnoor told CPJ.
In 2014, plainclothes security agents stormed Al-Tayar's office and assaulted Mirghani, CPJ reported at the time.
Elnoor told CPJ that the newspaper had been operating under a strict censorship regime since the beginning of the protests, long before the state of emergency. Since the protests began, the government has increased censorship and has harassed, detained, and arrested journalists, CPJ has found.