AFP, November 16, 2021 — Sudanese security forces have taken the bureau chief of Qatari-based Al Jazeera TV to prison even though the prosecution ordered him freed, the broadcaster said Monday.
Al Jazeera journalist Al-Musalami al-Kabbashi, a Sudanese national, was arrested from his home on Sunday, the latest in hundreds of arrests since a military coup three weeks ago.
Sudan’s top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on October 25 declared a state of emergency, ousted the government and detained the civilian leadership.
The army’s power grab has derailed a transition to full civilian rule, sparked international condemnation and provoked regular protests.
Burhan insists the military’s move on October 25 “was not a coup” but a push to “rectify the course of the transition”.
Al Jazeera, which said it “holds the Sudanese military authority responsible for the safety of all its employees”, denounced the detention of Kabbashi, saying that “the prosecution had ordered his release”.
Al Jazeera has given prominent coverage to the recent demonstrations, but has also aired a detailed interview with Burhan.
Other media outlets besides Al Jazeera have also been targeted. Before the coup, Sudan was already ranked 159 out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index by the NGO Reporters Without Borders.
It’s not the first time judicial decisions have been disregarded by the coup authorities.
Sudan has continued to remain largely offline even after a court ruled last week that internet services be restored. Judges also ordered the release of detainees arrested during nationwide anti-coup rallies on Saturday but “police took them to an unknown location,” a lawyer, Enaam Attik, told AFP.
Earlier on Monday, medics said the death toll from the weekend protests had risen to eight, bringing the total number killed since last month’s military takeover to 23.
The union named all eight people killed, including a 13-year-old girl who it said had suffered “a shot to the head outside her home”.
US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee is in Sudan until Tuesday seeking “release from detention of Sudanese political and civilian leaders, the return of Prime Minister Hamdok to office, and the restoration of a civilian-led transitional government.”
Sudan has a long history of military coups, enjoying only rare interludes of democratic rule since independence in 1956.