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Sudan security forces seize prominent journalist following 'foiled coup attempt'

Rizaigi was a prominent figure in the Sudanese state-controlled press [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 July, 2019

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The editor of a leading Sudanese newspaper was detained by security forces on Wednesday as part of a campaign of arrests of high-ranking figures, allegedly part of a foiled coup.
A prominent Sudanese editor and leader of the country's journalists' union has been detained, the federation said on Thursday, demanding Sudan's military rulers free him or allow him a trial.

Sadiq al-Rizaigi was detained on Wednesday, coinciding with the military's arrests of a top general, several security officers and Islamist leaders over a foiled coup attempt announced earlier this month.

The Sudanese Journalists' Union called on the ruling Transitional Military Council to "immediately release" its head Rizaigi, a prominent Islamist and editor of Al-Sayha newspaper, or put him on trial.

Security forces seized Rizaigi from outside the newspaper's premises, a senior journalist at the newspaper told AFP.

"We do not know where he is being held or the reasons for his detention," said Awad Jad Al-Sayid, news editor of Al-Sahya.

On Wednesday, the military announced several arrests in connection with a foiled coup attempt.

It said it had arrested General Hashim Abdel Mottalib, the head of the joint chiefs of staff, and a number of officers from the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) along with leaders of the Islamic Movement and the National Congress Party.

On 11 July, the military announced it had foiled a coup attempt without specifying when it took place.

Sudanese media also reported that among those arrested was General Bakri Hassan Saleh, a former first vice president and prime minister and a prominent figure in the 1989 coup that brought now ousted president Omar al-Bashir to power. 

Also arrested was Ali Karty, a former foreign minister and Zubair Ahmed Hassan, an ex-finance minister, according to the reports.

During Bashir's three-decade rule, the press was severely curtailed, according to media activists.

NISS agents cracked down regularly on journalists or confiscated entire print-runs of newspapers for publishing articles deemed critical of Bashir's policies.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) recorded at least 100 cases of journalists being arrested during the months of protests that finally led to Bashir's ouster in April.

RSF ranks Sudan 175th out of 180 countries in its 2019 World Press Freedom Index.


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