Sudan seizes runs of 10 newspapers after sexual assault story

Grand Forks Herald

Cairo (Reuters) - Sudan confiscated issues of 10 major newspapers on Sunday, in response to reports they carried on sexual assaults on children in Sudan, newspaper editors and a security source said.

The newspapers had published a story on Sunday based on a speech by an activist who said rape and sexual harassment were common on vehicles taking children to school.

Employees of the newspapers told Reuters security forces had entered the newspapers' printing presses late Sunday night and early Monday morning to confiscate the entire print runs of Monday's editions.

Security services have cracked down on press and political freedoms after President Omar Hassan al-Bashir won another term in elections last month, analysts say. Security services confiscated the entire print runs of 14 newspapers in February.

The authorities confiscated all of the papers without giving any reason, said Ashraf Abdel Aziz, editor-in-chief of Al-Jareeda newspaper.

A source in Sudan's main state security agency confirmed some editors' speculation that the seizures were related to the sexual assault story.

"Today we disrupted the distribution of 10 newspapers ... for having yesterday published irresponsibly on the subjects of crimes of harassment and rape," the source at the National Intelligence and Security Service said.

He said four of the newspapers would be prevented from publishing for several more days, and the state may pursue charges against some of the newspapers.

A government spokesman was not immediately available to comment.