Kassala’s governor embarks on a detention campaign targeting journalists and bloggers criticizing him

Altaghyeer: Salih Amar

Authorities in Kassala state released journalist Mohammed Osman Alradi on Friday evening on bail whereas the fate of another blogger remains unknown.

Previously a number of police officers arrested Mohammed Osman last Monday on midnight from his home at Alsimair Al hillah, south of Khartoum, and led him by force to Central Khartoum police station and eventually extradited him to Kassala city where he was charged on behalf of the National Congress party, which was represented by attorney Kawther Tayara, a leader in the party.

And according to a source from the journalist’s family who spoke to Altaghyeer, the prosecutor’s office charged him under cybercrimes law because of publishing statements attributed to a tribal leader attacking Kassala’s Governor Adam Jamma’a. The source also reported that the Governor’s lawyer said that his release will be conditioned by a commitment to refraining from publishing negative views about the governor.

In a related context, the fate of the blogger Mutasim Ahmed Sa’adok remains unknown. One of his family members reported to Altaghyeer that Mutasim was detained by security and intelligence authorities in Kassala last Tuesday, and was interrogated about his posts on social media on government corruption and its involvement in a deal with a Chinese company and criticizing the government’s delayed response to those affected by the latest floods and rainfall. The source also reported that security authorities transferred Mutasim to police department in Kassala after 3 days of detention, and that police still refuse to release him on bail. Sa’adok is facing charges under the cybercrime law that was approved this year by parliament and states severe penalties.

Sources also reported that other activists on social media and politicians were summoned by security authorities and police in Kassala.

In the same setting, the London-based opposition leader Fayiz Alghadi demanded the release of all detainees and the respect of freedom of speech in Kassala, and revealed the involvement of authorities in a new campaign of oppression targeting the opposition after the growing wave of popular resentment against the government which dug a trench on a water course under the claim of protecting Sudan from an Eritrean invasion causing a change in water flow that resulted in the death of at least 10 people and the flooding of thousands of homes.

And previously Governor Adam Jamma’a, head of state security brigadier Alamaldeen Mashi and state prosecutor Bregie threatened users of social media with dissuasive penalties in an open meeting with non-governmental organizations in the beginning of April last year. Brigadier Alamaldeen stated the major security concern are “rumors, and specifically rumors circulated through social media websites that targeted the state with widely negative postings on Facebook and Whatsapp”. While state prosecutor Bregie said that everybody posting on the internet is known to them via special technologies owned by government institutions and punishments of cybercrime included in the law amounts to 10 years imprisonment along with a huge figure as compensation, adding that “this sort of writings rattles our faith in our symbols, and we have to restore that faith by law”.

It is worth noting that authorities imposed a state of emergency over Kassala State since the end of last year because of what they claimed were security threats coming from Eritrea, in collaboration with Egypt, a claim refuted by each of Asmara and Cairo.

Kassala’s governor Adam Jamma’a was the target of a barrage of criticism in past months, and hundreds of State leaders signed petitions demanding the withdrawal of rapid support forces which are accused of a series of violations, in addition to lifting the state of emergency that grants the governor arrest and confiscation powers. Adam Jamma’a is closely linked to the leader of rapid support forces Moammed Hamdan Hemidti and vice president Hasabo Mohammed Abdelrahman and all three of them handled security files in Darfur region.           


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