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Sudan court fines award-winning journalist

July 10, 2017

A Sudanese court Monday ordered award-winning journalist Amal Habani to pay a fine or face jail time in a case where a security officer accused her of preventing him from doing his job.

Habani, winner of an Amnesty International prize for reporting on human rights in Sudan, was ordered to pay 10,000 Sudanese pounds ($1,430) or face a jail term of four months.

The court found her guilty in a case filed by a security officer who accused her of preventing him from doing his job during the March trial of three rights activists.

“This is injustice. I was covering a trial of human rights activists when the security officer beat me,” Habani told AFP by telephone from the court on Monday.

“When I complained against him, he filed a case against me. I will not pay the fine but rather go to jail.”

Her lawyer Ahmed Elshukri said he will file an appeal against the court’s order.

Habani, who writes for online Sudanese newspaper Al-Taghyeer, said the incident with the security officer occurred when she was taking pictures on her mobile phone outside a court during the March trial.

“He stopped me from taking pictures and confiscated my phone,” she said.

Habani’s case is the latest example of the restrictive environment in which journalists in Sudan often have to work, an issue regularly highlighted by rights groups.

Sudan regularly ranks near the bottom of international press freedom rankings.

Global rights groups have often accused Sudan’s powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) of detaining human rights workers, opposition politicians and journalists.

Agents of the NISS regularly confiscate entire print-runs of newspapers without giving a reason, particularly when they publish articles opposing government policies.

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