Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Faisal Salih Acquitted By Sudan Court Of Writing "Lies"

Faisal Salih (2nd left) Catherine Antoine (left) at Peter Mackler Award


In a bold move, a Sudan court acquitted editor and columnist Faisal Mohamed Salih, winner of the 2013 Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism, of writing “lies” and “insulting the state” that could have earned him a six-month jail sentence.  



The Global Post and Darfur-based Radio Dabanga reported that Salih was exonerated by Judge Esmat Suleiman who said in his verdict that Salih “did not publish lies and did not insult the state” and that “a lot of media published about this case.”

Reacting to Salih’s acquittal, Catherine Antoine, co-founder of the Peter Mackler Award said, “We are relieved to learn that Faisal Salih was cleared of wrong doing while exercising his profession. We hope the Sudanese courts will also clear the other journalist accused in a similar fashion.”

Click here for this blog’s coverage of Salih and media freedom in Sudan: 1), 2), 3), 4), 5), 6) and 7)

Salih was indicted under the Criminal Code after he was one the first journalists to expose the alleged gang rape of Sudan’s democracy activist Safia Ishag by agents of the notorious National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) by calling for “‘serious investigation’ into the activist’s allegation that she was raped in detention,” said the Global Post.

“‘It’s very positive for the freedom of the press and the role of the press in society,’ he [Salih] said, noting that the judge described his article as ‘very objective,’” reported Radio Dabanga following the acquittal.

In March 2011 after Ishag went public about her ordeal, Salih and other journalists denounced the NISS in their writings. The attorney general’s office summoned Salih and two others to be interrogated after the security forces accused them of spreading “false information.” Harassment in the hands of state authorities continued well into August with other journalists too being investigated or tried before courts for reporting the torture of Ishag. The NISS said Salih was defaming it by associating its officers with the rape of Ishag.

“An allegation of rape in custody is a grave matter and we are encouraged by the decision of the Sudanese court,” said Antoine in her message after the announcement of Saih’s acquittal.

Accepting the Peter Mackler Award at the National Press Club in Washington DC in October Salih said, “Sudanese journalists are not giving up. They face harassment, detention and threat of violence with great courage and honesty. They are doing all they can to serve their citizens right to know.”

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