Sentenced on 15 March to a fine of 935 US dollars each or to a month in prison, the two journalists were taken to Omdurman prison to begin serving the jail sentence after they refused to pay the fine. The defamation case was bought by a local government official in Hasaheisa, a town 140km southeast of Khartoum, over an article published on 20 November accusing the official of acquiring land illegally.
“We call for the immediate release of the two Al-Jareeda journalists,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of the RSF’s Africa desk. “The repeated harassment of the Sudanese media by judicial authorities and intelligence agents is extremely worrying and is reducing the already extremely low level of press freedom.”
The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) has meanwhile been restricting distribution of Al-Jareeda and another daily, Al-Tayyar, since 7 March. Each day’s issue is not allowed to leave the place where it is printed until 6 a.m., which means that people living far from Khartoum are being denied access to information.
Sudan is ranked 174th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.