Sudanese journalist faces prolonged imprisonment on politically motivated charges

The Sudanese authorities must immediately release a journalist who faces fresh charges despite completing a year’s prison sentence.Abuzar Al Amin, deputy editor-in-chief of Rai Al Shaab newspaper, was convicted on 14 July 2010 for undermining the Constitution and publishing false news after he published articles critical of the government.He has alleged that he was tortured while in prison.Abuzar Al Amin was due to be freed on 3 July 2011, but two weeks before his release two new claims were brought against him by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).Based on these claims, numerous charges under the 1991 Criminal Act have been made against him, including criminal conspiracy and undermining the constitution. If convicted he could face the death penalty or life imprisonment.”Abuzar Al Amin is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for expressing his opinions and this is a blatant attempt by the authorities to prolong his detention using what appear to be politically motivated charges,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Director for Africa.”The charges should be dismissed and he should be released immediately. The authorities must also conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the allegations of torture and other ill-treatment of Abuzar Al Amin and to bring those responsible to justice,”Abuzar Al Amin is now charged with injuring an NISS agent during his initial arrest in May 2010. A second charge relates to an article he wrote but no further details have been given.On 3 July 2011, Abuzar Al Amin was released from prison and transferred to the Office of the Prosecutor, where he awaits trial.Abuzar Al Amin and two of his colleagues were arrested in May 2010, in relation to articles that were published in Rai Al Shaab. These included an analysis of the results of the April 2010 presidential and parliamentary elections, and an article suggesting that an Iranian weapons factory had been built in Sudan.The day after Abuzar Al Amin was arrested NISS agents raided and closed down the office of the Rai Al Shaab newspaper. The newspaper has been suspended ever since.In July 2010 Abuzar Al Amin was convicted and sentenced to five years. In May 2011, the Supreme Court reduced his sentence to one year, with his release date marked for 3 July. During his initial arrest, Abuzar Al Amin was detained incommunicado and reportedly tortured or otherwise ill-treated by the NISS.He filed a claim against the NISS for his alleged torture and other ill-treatment but has not been allowed to present his case in court.