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'Free expression under attack in Sudan'

Khartoum - Journalists and freedom of expression are under increasing attack in Sudan, where newspapers have been confiscated and reporters charged with “spurious crimes,” Amnesty International said on Thursday.

Sudan's crackdown dates from early last year when uprisings began against oppressive rulers in North Africa and the Middle East, the London-based watchdog said.

“The pattern of harassment and intimidation of critics of the government has intensified since January 2011,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International's Africa director.

“Sudanese authorities have shut down 15 newspapers, confiscated more than 40 newspaper editions, arrested eight journalists and banned two from writing, seriously curtailing freedom of expression,” van der Borght said in a statement coinciding with World Press Freedom Day.

State intelligence agents have ordered three newspapers shut this year alone, while others have had their print runs seized.

“Authorities have also infiltrated social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to crack down on activists who use these tools to share information and coordinate demonstrations and other public actions,” Amnesty said.

The crackdown has coincided with tensions over the separation of South Sudan in July last year, and subsequently deteriorating economic conditions in Sudan. - Sapa-AFP

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