Security bans activist from travel: campaigners
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudanese security has banned a British-Sudanese rights activist from leaving the country, in the latest sign of a crackdown since elections in Africa's largest state, campaigners said on Wednesday.
Albaquir Al-Afif Mukhtar, from the Tamam network that monitored and criticised elections in April, was stopped at Khartoum airport on Tuesday and told to report to national security, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies said.
An official from the British embassy in Khartoum said they were aware of the situation but could not comment on individual consular cases.
Activists and journalists have complained of harsh restrictions on political freedoms that had flowered a little in the run-up to April elections, which were marred by opposition boycotts citing fraud and returned Sudan's president to power.
Lawyers last month said Sudan charged a detained opposition journalist with terrorism, espionage and destabilising the constitutional system -- charges that could be punished by the death penalty.
Abu Zur al-Amin, deputy editor of Rai al-Shaab newspaper, was arrested with three of his staff in a dawn raid on their offices. The three journalists are also facing charges, but the judge had banned reporting of the case, their lawyers said.
A member of Amin's defence Sati Mohamed el-Haj on Wednesday said the lawyers were pulling out of the case in protest at the judge's rejection of three out of four defence witnesses.
"It is impossible that somebody should be facing the death penalty because of their opinions," Haj told journalists in Khartoum.
Sudanese authorities shut down Rai al-Shaab on the same night that security agents arrested opposition Islamist Hassan al-Turabi the leader of the paper's Popular Congress Party.
The government blamed the paper's coverage, citing articles accusing President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of rigging the vote and reporting Iran was developing weapons in a Sudanese factory.
Earlier this month, the newspaper Ajras al-Huriya, linked with the former southern rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement, said it would suspend publication for a week in protest at a return to state censorship.
Rights activist Mukhtar said security agents stopped him from getting onto a flight to Spain at Khartoum airport in the early hours of Tuesday.
"The agents told me I am banned from all travel. I asked them why. They said I would get the answer on Thursday when I see them," Mukhtar, 55, told Reuters.
"The outcome of the elections in Sudan has been followed by a serious crackdown on human rights defenders and civil society activists," said the statement from the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies.
Mukhtar, who said he had dual British-Sudanese nationality, added he was supposed to give a paper on Darfur at a conference in Madrid and travel on to London.
No one was immediately available for comment from Sudanese security.