Journalist groups seek release of two held in Sudan

KHARTOUM - Journalists' groups on Tuesday demanded that Sudan release two reporters, an Egyptian and a Sudanese, who were detained one week ago during a clampdown sparked by unprecedented anti-regime protests.

The official Sudanese Journalists' Union said Shaimaa Adil, of the Egyptian Al-Watan newspaper, and Marwa Al Tegani, should be either freed or brought before a court for the allegations against them to be disclosed at a transparent trial.

'We need to know the accusations,' Mr Mekki Elmograbi, the union's press freedom and human rights secretary, told AFP.

The state security agency reported that the Egyptian was in good health, but rejected the union's demand for a visit, he added.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Adil and Tegani, a freelancer, were detained after covering anti-government protests and should be immediately released.

'The whereabouts or any charges against the journalists have not been disclosed,' the watchdog said.

'Sudan believes it can silence reporting of political unrest by disappearing journalists into an informational black hole,' CPJ deputy director Robert Mahoney said in a statement.

'Authorities in Sudan have stepped up their harassment of journalists in recent weeks,' CPJ added.

The crackdown coincides with scattered anti-government protests, sparked by high inflation, which began on June 16 and have continued for an unprecedented more than three weeks.

An Egyptian correspondent for international news wire Bloomberg was deported in late June after being detained while trying to cover the protest movement.

Also in June, security agents held an AFP correspondent for 14 hours without charge after he talked to students and took pictures at the University of Khartoum, where the demonstrations originated.

Last Friday, Dubai-based Al-Arabiya news channel said its crew was briefly detained and the cameraman roughed up while reporting on protests.

'Demonstrations are inherently newsworthy and journalists have a professional obligation to cover them,' CPJ said in a statement last week.

'Sudanese authorities should allow them to do so without obstruction.' Sudan has called the protesters 'rioters' who threaten the country's stability.

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