Sudanese authorities file lawsuit against newspaper and bar association

Sudan’s public prosecutor’s office has taken legal action against a leading newspaper and the bar association, sparking complaints that authorities are trying to restrict basic freedoms nearly a year after a coup.

On Monday, the cybercrime unit of the prosecution issued an order blocking the website of Al Sudani newspaper, one of the country’s most respected dailies.

A day earlier, the prosecution had summoned the head of the Sudanese Bar Association’s steering committee for questioning and ordered the seizure of his seat, a lawyer for the group said.

The prosecution’s media office did not respond to a phone call from Reuters.

Following the October 25, 2021 military coup, dozens of former combatants who served under Sudan’s former ruling party have begun to re-enter public service, including in the prosecutor’s office, ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The takeover challenged the expansion of political freedoms in Sudan since the ousting of former autocratic leader Omar al-Bashir in a 2019 uprising.

“We learned of the prosecutor’s order through social media, and it was surprising because we weren’t informed of any complaints against the newspaper,” he added. Al Sudani said editor Ataf Mohamed Mukhtar.

Mukhtar said the newspaper, whose website was still operating on Wednesday, would fight the order, which he said could only be issued by the courts.

“This order goes against the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press guaranteed by law,” he added.

The bar association had recently drawn up a proposal for a new constitution to resolve Sudan’s political crisis, which has seen the military locked in a standoff with civilian parties and pro-democracy protesters.

Lawyer Satie Al-Haj told Reuters a lawyer had filed a complaint about the association’s financial disclosures. The association had obtained a blockade on the order to seize the association’s headquarters, he said.

“What is happening is an organized attack on freedoms by remnants of the old regime trying to return to power,” Al-Haj said.

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