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Sudanese authorities confiscate copies of 9 newspapers

Reports on sexual harassment and rapes of students on buses are thought to be behind seizures
Newspapers are frequently confiscated in Sudan, which ranks among the worst in the world for press freedom (AFP)

Sudan's intelligence service on Monday confiscated the copies of nine independent daily newspapers after they were printed, according to sources with the confiscated papers.

The chief editor of independent daily Al-Tayyar, Osman al-Merghani, told Anadolu Agency that copies of his paper were seized on Monday morning from the printing press, along with those of at least eight other papers.

Mozamel Abu al-Qasem, chief editor of Al-Youm al-Tali, also confirmed that his paper was among the confiscated dailies.

The same happened with copies of Khartoum dailies Alwan, Al-Jaridah, Akher Lahza, Al-Sudani, Al-Raai al-Aam, journalists with the confiscated papers have confirmed.

It is thought that the newspapers were confiscated due to the publication of stories covering a television interview with a female activist who wrote about sexual harassment and rape on buses used by students, local news site Sudan Tribune reported.

Civil society activist Nesrin Ali Mustafa spoke on Sunday night to a popular Sudanese television programme about the sexual assaults suffered by students on buses ferrying them to and from schools and universities.
The article covering the interview has not been wiped from the online version of al-Intibaha, another of the newspapers to be targeted.

Sudan's intelligence services, which were responsible for the seizure, did not give the reasons behind the move.

All of the confiscated newspapers are independent with some of them considered close to the government, the Anadolu Agency correspondent reported.

Sudanese authorities could not be reached for a comment.

Confiscation of newspapers' copies is not uncommon in Sudan, which ranked 172 – out of 180 countries – on the 2014 Reporters without Borders' Press Freedom Index.

Monday's confiscation marks the second time this year that large numbers of newspapers have been seized.

Sudanese civil society organisations frequently accuse security agencies of cracking down on media outlets critical of the government.