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Sudan seizes more newspapers as frustration mounts

Sudanese men buys newspapers in Khartoum (© 2009 AFP)

Sudanese security agents seized all the copies of three independent newspapers on Sunday, their editors said, the latest such move in a week long crackdown on local independent dailies.

The security agents took all the latest editions of Al-Ahdath, Al-Watan, and Al-Jarida early on Sunday, shortly after they had been printed, without giving a reason, their editors told AFP.

The arbitrary seizure of independent newspapers comes amid concerns about worsening press freedom under the government of President Omar al-Bashir, which has coincided with escalating tensions between Khartoum and Juba.

“I think they want to hit us with heavy financial losses, because we have lost a lot of money from the printing and from the money we expected to get from advertising,” said Al-Jarida’s editor-in-chief Osman Shinger.

“They want to kick us out of the market. It is a bad thing for the freedom of expression in Sudan,” added Shinger, whose paper has now been barred from circulating at least three times this month.

On Friday, Al-Jarida and Akhir Lahza, another independent daily, saw their print-runs confiscated prior to distribution.

On Tuesday, security agents took all the copies of Al-Ahram, which contained an interview with a top South Sudanese official, and also banned the newspaper Al-Tayar from publishing for an unspecified period of time, its editor said.

And journalists and members of the opposition Communist Party held a sit-in in early June to protest repeated restrictions against their newspaper, Al-Midan, after its distribution was blocked by security agents 13 times over the past month.

The UN expert on human rights in Sudan, Mashood Adebayo Baderin, on Thursday highlighted concerns about press freedom, during his first visit to the country since his appointment in March.

Baderin said people had raised the issue with him, “with particular reference being made to the use of national security laws to clamp down on the press, including closure of media houses, arrest of journalists and confiscation of newspapers.”

Signature : KHARTOUM (AFP)

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