Sudan expels Canadian-Egyptian reporter Heba Aly
SUDAN-MEDIA- - -
Sudan has expelled a foreign journalist for reporting on the country's Darfur crisis and arms industry, U.S. diplomats said on Monday.
Canadian-Egyptian reporter Heba Aly, who wrote for U.S. news agency Bloomberg, the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor newspaper and the United Nations news service IRIN, left the country last week.
She told colleagues that officers from Sudan's security service contacted her and ordered her to leave days after she made enquiries about a Khartoum-based arms manufacturer.
"The U.S. embassy in Khartoum condemns this expulsion and continues to deplore infringements by the Government of Sudan upon freedom of the press and expression," the embassy said in a statement.
No one was immediately available for comment from Sudan's government or security service.
Aly reported on a series of clashes between government forces and rebel fighters in Sudan's Darfur region. Foreign journalists receive permits to visit the remote western region, but have faced restrictions on their movements once they arrive.
Freedom of the press is guaranteed in Sudan's constitution. But local journalists regularly complain about censorship, the detention of reporters and the seizure of newspaper print-runs.
Media rights groups Reporters Without Borders said it was investigating Aly's case.
Photo from Reuters (Editing by Louise Ireland)
UPDATE FROM SUDAN RADIO SERVICE 9 February 2009 - (Cairo):
The US embassy in Khartoum has condemned the recent expulsion of a foreign journalist from Sudan.- - -
The embassy issued a statement deploring what it says are “infringements by the Government of National Unity upon the freedom of the press.”
Heba Aly, a freelance journalist, was expelled on 2nd February, for reporting on the crisis in Darfur and for attempting to investigate Sudan’s arms industry.
Speaking to Sudan Radio Service on the phone from Cairo, Heba describes her experience:
[Heba Aly]: “I have been working in Sudan since June 2008 and I have had a couple of incidents with national security. They stopped me once in Darfur and once in Khartoum and both times they went through all my things, laptop, everything. I got phone calls from national security quite often. So it was a period of harassment, a sort of intimidation, until I was asked to leave.”
Heba says that, as the election nears, the National Security Bill and the Press Bill have to be passed to allow for free and fair elections.
[Heba Aly]: “There will be elections as part of the peace agreement. Part of what many people in Sudan have been pushing for in the lead up to the election is the new press and national security laws so that these elections can proceed freely and fairly. Neither of those new laws has been passed and I think my case is an example of just why they are needed.”
The international press freedom watchdog, Reporters Without Borders and the Canadian government are both to investigate her case.
Thanks to Eric for posting a link to Heba Aly's blog - Heba's adventures in Senegal ... and beyond! - here in the comments.
From AFP 5 Feb. 2009 - Canada condemns journalist's expulsion from Sudan - excerpt:
Aly told colleagues that she had been questioned by Sudanese authorities in December when she left Khartoum to spend Christmas with her family in Canada.From Christian Science Monitor 6 Feb. 2009 - Sudan expels a Canadian contributor to the Monitor - excerpt:
She returned to the East African nation in January but did not obtain a new press identification card from Sudanese authorities and her application for a work permit was not approved.
Aly worked in the war-battered country throughout January but was given an ultimatum last week to leave.
In the case of Heba Aly, a Canadian journalist with Egyptian nationality as well, Sudan says it expelled her because of immigration issues, not because of her reporting.
Yet Ms. Aly says it was her investigating of Sudan's arms manufacturing industry that prompted agents from Sudan's national security agency to call her in for a hastily convened meeting this past weekend at a restaurant in Sudan's capital.