New York, November 19, 2021 – Sudanese authorities must immediately release journalist Ali Farsab, ensure journalists can safely cover protests, and refrain from targeting members of the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On November 17, Sudanese security forces in the city of Khartoum Bahri beat, shot, and detained Farsab, a reporter for the local independent newspaper Al-Tayar, according to news reports, a statement by the local press freedom group the Sudanese Journalists Network, and Yuosif Doka, a local journalist familiar with the incident, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app.
Farsab was covering protests against Sudan’s recent military coup when security forces began beating him, breaking his collarbone and finger; one officer fired a bullet that grazed Farsab’s head, according to those sources.
The officers arrested Farsab after the beating, and held him at Khartoum Bahri’s Murqin Police Station until today, when authorities transferred him to a hospital, where he remains in their custody, according to a local journalist who knows Farsab and spoke with CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.
“Sudanese security forces’ shooting and beating of journalist Ali Farsab make a mockery of the coup government’s alleged commitment to a democratic transitional phase in the country,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “Authorities must immediately and unconditionally release both Farsab and detained journalist Maher Abugoukh and ensure that members of the press can work safely without fear of being attacked by security forces.”
During anti-coup protests throughout the country on November 17, security forces shot and killed at least 15 people, according to news reports, which described it as the deadliest day since the military seized power and dissolved Sudan’s civilian government on October 25.
Authorities arrested Maher Abugoukh, the manager of several news and political programs on Sudan’s state television channels, from his home in Khartoum on the day of the coup, as CPJ reported at the time. Abugoukh remains in custody as of today, according to the journalist who anonymously spoke with CPJ.
On November 14, authorities also arrested journalist Al-Musalmi al-Kabbashi, the Khartoum bureau chief of the Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera, from his home in Khartoum, as CPJ documented at the time. He was released the following day without charge, that journalist said.
CPJ emailed the Sudanese Justice Ministry and the military for comment, but did not immediately receive any replies.