PEN International welcomes the release from prison of Rai al-Shaab journalists Ashraf Abdel Aziz and Altahir Ibrahim on February 6, 2011, on completion of their sentence. However, PEN remains concerned about the continued detention of Rai al-Shaab deputy editor Abu Zar Al-Amin, who was sentenced in July 2010 to five years in prison, and who is reportedly suffering from poor health as a result of torture. PEN also protests the continued incommunicado detention of nine other journalists. It considers the detention of Al-Amin and the nine other journalists to be in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and calls on the Sudanese authorities to release them immediately and unconditionally.

Background Information

Abu Zara al-Amin, Ashraf Abdelaziz, and Dahab Ibrahim, respectively deputy editor and reporters working for the opposition daily newspaper Rai al-Shaab, were arrested during a raid by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on the newspaper's offices in Khartoum on May 16, 2010. Al-Amin and Ibrahim were reportedly tortured by NISS agents. On July 15, 2010, all three journalists were convicted of "undermining the constitutional system" and "publishing false information." Al-Amin was sentenced to five years in prison while Abdelaziz and Ibrahim received two-year sentences.

Both Abdelaziz and Ibrahim were released on February 6, 2011, after completing a one-year prison sentence; their sentences had been reduced on appeal from two years to one in November 2010. Rai al-Shaab was suspended for one year at the same hearing. On the journalists' release, they stated that they had been tortured during their initial detention and they were not informed of the reason for their arrest. They also said that conditions at Kober Prison were very poor, with overcrowding a particular problem.

Al-Amin remains still in prison; it is assumed that his appeal was unsuccessful. Reports suggest that he is suffering from poor health as a result of torture and that he is not receiving adequate medical attention.

In a separate case, Khaled Tawfiq, Kamal Karrar, Ibrahim Mirghani, and Mohamed Rahma from Al-Midan newspaper, who were arrested on February 3, 2011, were released on February 12.

However, nine other journalists remain in detention in Sudan and their whereabouts are still unknown. Samir Salah Eldin, Suleiman Wida'a, Mohamed El-Dirdiri, Abdelazeem Albadawi, Fatima Bashir ,and Fathia Tinga of Al-Midan, have been detained since February 3, 2011, while Hamza Baloul and Ali Ahmad Haj Al-Amin of Al-Ahdath have been held since January 10; all of them were arrested after covering protests. Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim of Al-Sahafa has been detained since November 3, 2010.

Write A Letter

  • Welcoming the release of Rai al-Shaab journalists Ashraf Abdel Aziz and Altahir Ibrahim and four other journalists from Al Midan newspaper;
  • Protesting the arrest and ongoing detention of Rai al-Shaab editor Abu Zara al-Amin, Al-Midan journalists Samir Salah Eldin, Suleiman Wida’a, Mohamed El-Dirdiri, Abdelazeem Albadawi, Fatima Bashir and Fathia Tinga, Al-Sahafa journalist Jaafar Alsabki  and Al-Ahdath journalists Hamza Baloul and Ali Ahmad Haj Al-Amin which PEN believes is a clear violation of their right to freedom of expression;
  • Expressing serious concern that some of the journalists have been held incommunicado and that al-Amin has reportedly been subjected to torture;
  • Calling on the Sudanese authorities to release all the journalists immediately and unconditionally and to investigate the allegations of torture against al-Amin;
  • While al-Amin remains in detention, the authorities must ensure he receives the medical attention he requires.

Send Your Letter To

HE President Omar Al Bashir
Office of the President
People’s Palace
PO Box 281
Fax: +249 183 774339
Mohamed Atta Al-Moula Abbas
Director of the NISS
NISS Headquarters

Dr Priscilla Joseph
Chair of the Human Rights Committee
National Assembly
Omdurman, Sudan
Fax: +249 187 560 980

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Sudan in your country if possible.

Please send appeals immediately. Contact PEN if sending appeals after April 17, 2011: ftw [at]