Sudan sentences Aljazeera correspondent

The judicial court of Khartoum has sentenced Aljazeera's correspondent in Sudan to prison for a month for "spreading false information on the national security forces."

    Salih was convicted of spreading "false information"

    The court also on Saturday convicted the correspondent, Islam Salih, for "opposing the customs officers" and issued him a fine of one million Sudanese pounds ($400).

    Abd Al-Salam al-Jizuli, Salih's lawyer told Aljazeera.net that he did not expect the court decision from a judicial point of view.

    "But the previous  behavior of the national security forces that included detaining Salih and closing Aljazeera's office had made us realise that the court might rule against Salih."

    The Sudanese security closed Aljazeera office in Khartoum last December after raiding it and confiscating broadcasting equipment.

    Al-Jizuli regarded the decision as unjust. "It was not based on any judicial reference," he told Aljazeera.net.

    "The real issue here is to prevent free expression and Aljazeera is considered one of its main promoters."

    Appeal

    Aljizuli will appeal the court decision. "We have already formed a committee of the best 50 lawyers in Sudan to appeal Salih's case," he said. "The first thing we asked for was to release Salih until the appeal court decision is issued."

    According to the lawyer, Salih is currently being held in a public prison in Um Durman near Khartoum.

    Aljazeera spokesperson Jihad Ballout said:"It is unfortunate and unexpected  because we thought Islam's case does not merit what has happened so far."

    "We reserve comment because we are going through the appeal process," he added.

    Aljazeera channel, whose motto is "The opinion and the counter opinion", had given government and opposition figures a platform when reporting on Sudan.

    Human rights organisations have often condemned Sudan for cracking down on freedom of expression.

    In its 2003 report on Sudan, Amnesty International said security forces continued to limit media freedoms.

    Amnesty added that authorities unlawfully arrested journalists and editors and fined or suspended newspapers.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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