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Media watchdog says Sudan journalist held in Saudi risks extradition

September 8, 2015

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Tuesday that a Sudanese journalist has been detained in Saudi Arabia without charge since July and his family fear he could be extradited to Khartoum.

Waleed al-Hussein founded the Al-Rakoba website, which publishes news and opinion pieces critical of President Omar al-Bashir’s government and has been blocked in Sudan several times since it started in 2005, RSF said in a statement.

Hussein “has been held without charge for the past six weeks and, according to his family, could be extradited to Sudan,” RSF said.

Six plainclothes officers and a uniformed policeman detained Hussein at his home in Saudi Arabia on July 23, seizing his computer and phones.

Hussein’s lawyer has not been able to meet with him but his wife had visited him three times, RSF said.

Hussein told his wife that the officer responsible for his case told him he could be extradited to Sudan.

RSF Secretary General Christophe Delore said if the extradition were confirmed, Hussein would have “serious grounds for fearing persecution by the Sudanese security services, which have repeatedly threatened him in the past”.

Delore urged Saudi authorities to free Hussein or to allow him access to a lawyer and tell him what he has been charged with.

Hussein has lived in Saudi Arabia since 2000.

Journalists in Sudan frequently complain of harassment from the country’s powerful security services, who regularly confiscate whole print runs of newspapers over articles they deem inappropriate.

Sudan ranked 174 out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2015 press freedom index.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.