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Press watchdog expresses concern about Tunisian journalist arrested in Sudan

February 28, 2009 (PARIS) — A press watchdog expressed concern over the fate of a Tunisian journalist arrested by the Sudanese security yesterday in Khartoum. His friends said his whereabouts are unknown.

"We call on the Sudanese authorities to urgently explain this arrest, which comes less than a month after the expulsion of Heba Aly, a journalist with Canadian and Egyptian dual citizenship. The government must publicly say where Latif is being detained and what he is charged with", said Reporters Without Borders in a statement released today.

A freelance journalist who works for France 24’s Arabic-language service and the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, Zuhair Latif was arrested by the Sudanese security services in his house on Friday after confiscating his computer hard drive, documents and tapes.

The Sudanese authorities said today that Latif had violated immigration rules. Further they accused him of performing "activities not covered by his mandate" without details.

The charges are similar to the explanations provided after the expulsion of a Canadian Egyptian journalist earlier this month. Heba Aly was "practicing activities outside her assignment which harm Sudan National Security" the security service said on February 9.

Latif had just spent 21 days in Darfur although the travel permits issued to the journalists by the authorities are usually for periods no longer than two weeks. According to local sources, his arrest could be linked to this visit to Darfur and the fact that he also works for the World Food Programme, a UN agency.

The British Embassy in Khartoum today said Latif was not a British citizen.