IFJ Calls on Sudan to Release Two Journalists Held On Defamation Charges

May. 19, 2007

The International Federation of Journalist (IFJ) today called on the Government of Sudan to release two imprisoned journalists and reopen their newspaper Al-Sudani after a defamation complaint by the Justice Minister shut down the paper and put the editor and a columnist in jail.

Al-Sudani editor-in-chief Mahjoub Erwa and columnist Osman Merghani have been detained after the newspaper was shut down on Wednesday night. In the newspapers Wednesday edition Osman asked the minister to resign allegedly lying about a money-laundering court case.

We call on the Sudanese government for the immediate release of Mahjoub and Osman and for the reopening of the newspaper, said Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa Office. This disproportionate action of the authorities is a clear attempt at intimidation.

The prosecutor issued on Wednesday night a decision ordering Al-Sudani newspaper to suspend operations indefinitely pending investigation of a complaint from Justice Minister Mohamed Ali al-Mardhi for defamation. Several copies of the paper were also seized.

Al-Sudani editorial director Abdel Rahman al-Amin told Reuters that the release of the journalists were expected within several hours and the paper had filed an appeal to reverse the decision.

According to Reuters, it was the second time this year that authorities had shut down the paper. Al-Sudani was briefly closed in February after it violated a decree not to report on the case of a murdered journalist, Mohamed Taha.

For further information contact the IFJ: +221 842 01 43
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries

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