North Sudan War on the Media Continues

Northern Sudanese investigators on Wednesday presented their case against seven local individuals undergoing trial on the grounds of working for the Netherlands-based Radio Dabanga, arguing that the defendants had collaborated to reveal “state secretes.”

The seven defendants were arrested on 30 October 2010 as Sudanese security agents raided the office of the Human Rights and Democracy Network in Khartoum 2 area.

Sudanese authorities said the office was acting a base for Radio Dabanga, which is registered in Holland but unlicensed in Sudan.

The radio is one of the few media outlets reporting exclusively on the situation in Sudan’s war-battered region of Darfur.

Thirteen Darfur activists were arrested during the raid and remanded in the custody of state security without charges.

Sudanese authorities later decided to release six of the arrested individuals due to “insufficient evidences” and brought seven to trail on 13 July after they spent nearly 10 months in detention.

State prosecutors brought a raft of charges against the defendants, including “undermining of the constitutional system” and “calling for violent resistance to the state”

In the second hearing on Tuesday at the Khartoum-center Criminal Court, investigators told the defense team of the accused that their clients had collaborated to “incite sedition” and “reveal state secrets” through broadcasting them on radio Dabanga.

Investigators further detailed charges against each of the accused, saying that the second defendant Jaffar Al-Sabki, who works for the Khartoum-based Arabic daily Al-Sahafah, was recruited by Dabanga to obtain reports from Darfur and send them to the radio.

Some press-freedom organizations accuse Sudanese authorities of targeting individual journalists and media outlets through “contrived” legal proceedings, according to the the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

A Sudanese female journalist was recently tried and sentenced to jail for writing on claims of by a Sudanese female activist that she was raped by state security agents.

Sudanese authorities also stand accused of targeting media outlets reporting on the long-running conflict in the country’s western region of Darfur.

According to Ambroise Pierre, the Africa head of Reporters Without Borders, Darfur is one the key issues subject to repression in Sudan.