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Sudanese editor on trial for undermining dignity of state
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May 10, 2010 - 7:09:34 AM

Sudanese editor on trial for undermining dignity of state

May 9, 2010 11:34 PM| By

A Sudanese newspaper editor went on trial yesterday charged with publishing "false news" that undermined the dignity of the state, an offence punishable by up to six months in jail.



Faiz al-Silaik, acting editor-in-chief of Ajras al-Huriya, which has strong links to south Sudan's main political party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, said his publication was being targeted in an attack on press freedom.

"This is the fifth case raised against the newspaper in the past three months," he said yesterday, after court proceedings were adjourned until June 15 because another journalists accused, Al-Hajj Waraq, was out of the country.

"Three [cases were instituted] by the state security apparatus, one by the police and one by the army," he said, blaming President Omar Hassan al-Bashir's National Congress Party for the alleged harassment.

Waraq wrote an article in Ajras al-Huriya critical of al-Bashir and his party and urging people to support the Sudan People's Liberation Movement's boycott of the vote in the north, citing widespread fraud.

But the focus of the charges was on a reference in the story to an anti-National Congress youth activist who said that he was arrested and tortured by state security agents during the election campaign.

"This story was published as a news item by many papers, websites and international broadcasters weeks before this article and yet they are targeting only us for this," said Silaik.

The security service, which has denied arresting the activist, was not available to comment.

Al-Bashir lifted direct censorship of dozens of Sudanese papers before the April election. But some newspapers complain that they face financial pressure due to cutbacks of government company advertising, forcing self-censorship. - Reuters

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