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Sudanese journalist charged with undermining constitutional order

January 16, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The chief editor of the Sudanese Communist Party’s (SCP) al-Midan newspaper, Madiha Abdalla, has been interrogated by the prosecutor on charges of crimes against the state filed by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).

The NISS recently suspended al-Midan several times which is the only remaining political party’s mouthpiece.

Last week, Kamal Karar, al-Midan’s managing editor said there are no obvious reasons for suspending the newspaper, noting the move was linked to the SCP’s stances towards political issues.

He also stressed that al-Midan’s continuous rejection of the pre-publication censorship as well as non-compliance with NISS’s directives are among the reasons for suspension of the newspaper.

According to Sudan’s Journalists’ Association for Human Rights (JAHR), NISS informed Abdalla in a phone call at 11:00 am on Tuesday that an arrest warrant has been issued against her, pointing she was ordered to come to the office of the prosecutor of crimes against the state in Khartoum.

Charges have been filed against Madiha under four articles of the criminal code including article (21) regarding joint acts in execution of criminal conspiracy, article (50) regarding undermining the constitutional system, article (63) regarding calling of opposition to public authority by use of violence or criminal force and article (66) regarding publication of false news.

She has also been charged under article (24) of the press and publication act regarding responsibility of the editor-in-chief.

The case was referred to central Khartoum court and Abdallah was released under ordinary guarantee.

The charges could hand Abdalla the death penalty if convicted.

NISS has allowed distribution of only 1200 copy of al-Midan on Tuesday before it confiscated Thursday copies of the newspaper.

The Al-Midan daily is being temporarily published three days a week on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Meanwhile, the NISS has also confiscated Thursday’s copies of the al-Saiha daily newspaper after it was printed.

Several journalists at al-Saiha told Sudan Tribune that NISS officers came to the newspaper’s premises in eastern Khartoum on Wednesday night, demanding that a column written by al-Saiha’s publisher, al-Tayeb Mustafa, be reviewed.

The same journalists said that NISS officers were told that Thursday’s issue had already been sent to the printing press and that copies of the newspapers were subsequently confiscated the following morning.

Al-Saiha was launched last March by Mustafa, the chairman of the Just Peace Forum (JPF) party and president Omer Hassan al-Bashir’s maternal uncle.