May 28, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The office of Sudan’s state security prosecutor led a raid on the headquarters of Al-Saiha newspaper which was suspended from publishing indefinitely this month by the director of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) after a string of reports it published on corruption by government officials, most notably undersecretary of the ministry of justice.
Sudan’s official news agency (SUNA) quoted state security prosecutor Yasser Ahmed Mohamed that they took action against the newspaper under articles 21/24/25/26/55/66 of the Criminal Code and article 24/26 of the Press and Publications Law.
Mohamed said that the raid was carried out over suspicion of violation of Article 55 of the Criminal Code which prohibits circulating government documents outside the official channels.
Al-Saiha editor-in-chief Yasser Mahjoub was arrested before being released later on his own recognizance.
The prosecution said he found many published and unpublished documents, adding that the investigation will continue in response to NISS complaint.
Al-Saiha was launched recently by the chairman of the Just Peace Forum (JPF) party and President Bashir’s maternal uncle, al-Tayeb Mustafa, after NISS forced him out of his previous newspaper al-Intibaha.
NISS banned Al-Intibaha after JPF spoke out against economic measures announced last September, condemning the bloody repression of anti-austerity protests that broke out following the decision. The paper was allowed to resume operations on the condition that Mustafa step down as chairman.
The JPF, a splinter faction of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), is a radical Islamist and separatist party. During the transitional period of 2005-2011, it campaigned strongly for separation between Sudan and the South.
Last week, the Sudanese presidency delivered a firm warning to media outlets on its coverage of certain items that poses a danger to national security and the country as a whole.
The Sudanese minister of information Ahmed Bilal Osman said the NISS has the legal right to suspend Al-Saiha and any media raising confusion and dissension in the country.
He however reaffirmed that the suspension in such cases does not mean reneging on freedom of information.