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Sudan Detains Top National Journalist

Sudanese protesters and wave flags during a rally at the Green Square in Khartoum, Sudan, July 18, 2019.

A top Sudanese editor who heads the main journalists' union has been detained, the union said Thursday, calling on Sudan's military rulers to free him or put him on trial.

The detention of Sadiq al-Rizaigi came as the military said it had arrested a top general, several security officers and Islamist leaders over a failed coup attempt announced earlier this month.

The Sudanese Journalists' Union called on the ruling Transitional Military Council to "immediately release" its head Rizaigi, a prominent Islamist and editor of Al-Sayha newspaper, or that he be put on trial.

A senior journalist with Rizaigi's newspaper told AFP that security forces had taken him away from outside the newspaper's premises.

"We do not know where he is being held or the reasons for his detention," said Awad Jad Al-Sayid, news editor of Al-Sahya.

On Wednesday, the military announced several arrests in connection with a failed coup attempt.

It said it had arrested General Hashim Abdel Mottalib, the head of the joint chiefs of staff, and a number of officers from the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) along with leaders of the Islamic Movement and the National Congress Party.

On July 11, the military announced it had foiled a coup attempt without specifying when it took place.

Sudanese media also reported that among those arrested was General Bakri Hassan Saleh, a former first vice president and prime minister and a prominent figure in the 1989 coup that brought now ousted president Omar al-Bashir to power.

Also arrested was Ali Karty, a former foreign minister and Zubair Ahmed Hassan, an ex-finance minister, according to the reports.

During Bashir's three-decade rule, the press was severely curtailed, according to media activists.

NISS agents cracked down regularly on journalists or confiscated entire print-runs of newspapers for publishing articles deemed critical of Bashir's policies.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) recorded at least 100 cases of journalists being arrested during the months of protests that finally led to Bashir's ouster in April.

RSF ranks Sudan 175th out of 180 countries in its 2019 World Press Freedom Index.