Sudan jails Czech missionary on 'espionage' charges
A Sudanese court on Sunday sentenced a Czech missionary to 24 years in jail on three charges including "spying" and inciting hatred, his lawyer said.
Petr Jasek was found guilty of "entering the country without a visa... spying... taking pictures of military installations... inciting hatred... and publishing fake news," Omar al-Faruk Shmina said.
Sudanese authorities arrested Jasek in December 2015 and said at the time that he had entered the country "illegally" from neighbouring South Sudan and had gone to South Kordofan state.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011.
In Prague, the Czech foreign ministry confirmed that Jasek had been sentenced by a court in Khartoum, but said he was given a 20-year jail term.
The ministry said it was convinced that the verdict was not backed by facts, and said it would immediately start talks with the Sudanese foreign ministry to negotiate Jasek's release.
Czech media said that Jasek had gone to Sudan to help local Christians.
Release International, an organisation helping persecuted Christians worldwide, said he was detained along with three Sudanese men after helping finance the medical treatment of a student from Darfur who was burnt during a rally.
"Sudanese officials accuse Petr Jasek and three Sudanese men of funding rebel movements in areas such as South Kordofan and Darfur," it said of two conflict-hit areas in the country.
The four were accused of "at least seven crimes, including 'waging war against the state' and spying," it added.
The Khartoum court that sentenced Jasek also handed a 14-year prison sentence to a priest, Hassan Abdel Rahim, and jailed activist Abdel Moneim Abdul Mulli to 13 years, the defence lawyer said,
"We will appeal the verdicts," he added.It was not immediately clear if Abdel Rahim and Abdulmulli were with Jasek when he was detained two years ago.