Cairo, Nov 2 (AP/UNB) — Amnesty International on Friday urged the Sudanese government to halt what it describes as "relentless harassment, intimidation and censorship of journalists" in the country.
In a report documenting the arrests of at least 15 journalists by state security forces between January and October, the rights group says the media in Sudan are frequently targeted by the National Intelligence and Security Agency for their reporting, especially for publishing articles criticizing government policies.
Sudan has been ranked 174 out of 180 countries in 2017 world press freedom index by Reporters without Borders, a media watchdog.
Amnesty said NISS agents often show up at newspaper printing presses to review each edition, ordering editors to drop certain stories before publication or altogether confiscating entire print runs.
According to the report, entire print runs of 10 newspapers were confiscated on at least 27 occasions.
"Since the beginning of 2018 the Government of Sudan, through its security machinery, has been unrelenting in its crackdown on press freedom by attacking journalists and media organizations," said Amnesty's Sarah Jackson.
Journalists have been summoned and interrogated for several hours virtually every month this year, Amnesty added, with some being arrested and charged, and others imprisoned simply for doing their job.
A talk show program on Omdurman TV was banned on Aug. 31 after interviewing politicians who criticized a decision by the ruling National Congress Party to nominate President Omar al-Bashir to stand for a third term in 2020.
Al-Bashir, who has ruled Sudan for decades, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide charges linked to the conflict in Darfur dating back to 2003.
"The Sudanese authorities must stop this shameful assault on freedom of expression and let journalists do their jobs in peace. Journalism is not a crime," Jackson said.
Afghanistan, 2 Nov (Xinhua/UNB) - At least three police officers and four Taliban militants were killed during clashes in Afghanistan's northern province of Faryab overnight, a local official said Friday.
"Hundreds of militants stormed a key police checkpoint in Dawlat Abad district Thursday night, causing heavy gunfight. The clashes caused three policemen and four militants killed," a provincial council official, Sibghatullah Selab, told Xinhua.
An unknown number of police personnel and four police vehicles were captured by Taliban, he said.
Security forces launched a search operation early Friday to track the fleeing militants in the area.
The province, 425 km northwest of Kabul, has been the scene of heavy clashes between Taliban and security forces from time to time.
Fighting has escalated in Afghanistan as the Taliban insurgency spreads from its traditional strongholds in the south and east to the once peaceful region in the north, where Taliban have been recruiting from the youth.
Dhaka, Nov 2 (UNB) - Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the US he considered murdered writer Jamal Khashoggi to be a dangerous Islamist, media reports say.
Prince Mohammed reportedly said this in a phone call with the White House after Khashoggi disappeared but before Saudi Arabia admitted killing him, reports BBC.
Saudi Arabia has denied the reports in the Washington Post and New York Times.
Khashoggi, a Saudi national working for the US press, was a well-known critic of his home country's rulers.
His body has not yet been found, but Turkey, the US and Saudi Arabia have all agreed that he was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.
Saudi Arabia denies its royal family was involved and says it is "determined to find out all the facts".
Late last month, Prince Mohammed said that "the crime was painful to all Saudis".
What was said in the phone call?
During the call with President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and National Security Advisor John Bolton, Prince Mohammed said Khashoggi had been a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a transnational Islamist organisation, the Washington Post reported.
The phone call is reported to have taken place on 9 October, a week after Khashoggi disappeared.
Prince Mohammed also reportedly urged the White House to preserve the US-Saudi alliance.
In a statement to the newspaper, Khashoggi's family denied he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and said the murdered writer had himself denied this repeatedly in recent years.
"Jamal Khashoggi was not a dangerous person in any way possible. To claim otherwise would be ridiculous," the statement said.
There is still no consensus on how Khashoggi died.
He entered the consulate to sort out documents for his marriage to his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz.
On Wednesday Turkey said he was strangled immediately after entering the consulate and his body dismembered "in accordance with plans made in advance".
Turkish media had previously quoted sources as saying Khashoggi had been tortured.
Saudi Arabia has changed its account of what happened to Khashoggi.
When he first disappeared, it said Khashoggi had walked out of the building alive. It later admitted he had been murdered, saying the killing was premeditated and a result of a "rogue operation".
It has arrested 18 suspects, who, it says, will be prosecuted in Saudi Arabia. Turkey wants the suspects to be extradited.
Turkey has steered away from publicly blaming Saudi Arabia for the killing.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Saudi King Salman last week, and the two agreed to continue co-operating in the investigation.
Saudi Arabia has faced backlash over the death, including from its allies, who have called for answers.
President Trump has said he is "not satisfied" with the Saudi account. However, he also said he was unwilling to sacrifice lucrative arms deals with the country.
On Thursday US secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it would be a "handful more weeks" before the US knew enough to impose sanctions on individuals involved in Khashoggi's killing.
Mr Pompeo told a local radio station in St Louis that the US had "deep and long-term strategic relationships" with Saudi Arabia and said "we intend to make sure that those relationships remain intact".
US activists have launched a petition, calling for a section of road near the Saudi embassy in Washington to be renamed Jamal Khashoggi Way.
On Wednesday, France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Khashoggi's death was a "crime" and "odious".
He said France was not "dependent on our economic relations with Saudi Arabia" and the country would impose sanctions, but no details were given.
UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt also said it was an appalling act, adding that it had "possibly" given the US and the UK a chance to put new pressure on Saudi Arabia over other issues.
Earlier, the US called for a swift cessation of hostilities in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been fighting local Houthi rebels.
Istanbul, Nov 1 (AP/UNB) — Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul as part of a premeditated killing, and his body was dismembered before it was removed, a top Turkish prosecutor said Wednesday.
Chief Istanbul prosecutor Irfan Fidan's office also said in a statement that discussions with Saudi chief prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb over the killing yielded "no concrete result" despite Turkey's "good-intentioned efforts to reveal the truth."
The statement was the first public confirmation by a Turkish official that Khashoggi was strangled and mutilated after he entered the Saudi Consulate on Oct. 2. It also pointed to a lack of cooperation from Saudi officials in the investigation of the slaying.
"In accordance with plans made in advance, the victim, Jamal Khashoggi, was strangled and killed immediately after entering the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia," the prosecutor's office said.
"The victim Jamal Khashoggi's body was dismembered and destroyed following his death by suffocation, again in line with the advance plans," the two-page statement read.
The prosecutor's statement that Khashoggi was killed immediately conflicts with a report by pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak earlier this month, which cited what it described as an audio recording of Khashoggi being tortured before being killed. The newspaper claimed that his fingers were cut off and that he was killed by being beheaded.
On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump said he doesn't feel "betrayed" by Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi's death.
Trump, who made Saudi Arabia the destination of his first foreign trip as president, said the Saudis didn't betray him but "maybe they've betrayed themselves." Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday: "I just hope it all works out."
Turkey is seeking the extradition of 18 suspects in the journalist's slaying who were detained in Saudi Arabia. It also is pressing Saudi Arabia for information about who ordered Khashoggi's killing and the location of his remains.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Riyadh to disclose the identity of an alleged local collaborator said to have been involved in getting rid of Khashoggi's body.
Saudi chief prosecutor al-Mojeb met with Fidan twice and also visited the Turkish intelligence agency's Istanbul headquarters this week before leaving for Riyadh on a private jet Wednesday.
Saudi Arabia has not commented directly on the prosecutor's visit and al-Mojeb did not respond to journalists' questions at the airport as he departed.
Fidan's office said the Saudi delegation submitted a written statement and invited the Turkish delegation to come to Saudi Arabia bringing "evidence obtained during the course of the investigation."
The Saudi representatives said the whereabouts of Khashoggi's remains and whether the killing was premeditated or not would only come to light through a joint interrogation by Turkish and Saudi investigators, according to the statement.
The statement said Turkey renewed its request for the 18 suspects to be extradited. It did not say if Turkish officials would travel to Saudi Arabia.
On Wednesday, a lawmaker and spokesman for Turkey's ruling party again called on Saudi Arabia to reveal where Khashoggi's body is, who gave the orders for the killing and who the alleged Turkish collaborator is.
"Instead of trying to find out what (evidence) Turkey has, Saudi authorities should give the answers to these questions," Omer Celik told reporters. "This is not an incident that could have taken place without a high-level order."
Celik added: "We are not blaming anyone in advance but we will not allow anything to be covered up."
Khashoggi, a 59-year-old columnist for The Washington Post, vanished after entering the consulate in Istanbul to pick up paperwork he needed for his upcoming marriage. His Turkish fiancee was waiting for him outside. A critic of the Saudi crown prince, Khashoggi had been living in exile in the United States.
Turkey alleges a hit squad from Saudi Arabia — including a member of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's entourage during a trip to the United States— went to Istanbul to kill the journalist and then tried to cover it up.
Under mounting pressure, Saudi Arabia changed its narrative about Khashoggi's killing several times, eventually admitting Khashoggi died inside the consulate. Saudi Arabia only recently acknowledged Turkish evidence showed the slaying was premeditated.
Hurriyet newspaper columnist Abdulkadir Selvi, who is known to be close to the Turkish government, said the Saudi prosecutor revealed nothing new to Turkish investigators during his three-day visit and left with several questions unanswered.
"Rather than share the information he has, the Saudi prosecutor tried to learn what information and evidence Turkey has in its hands," Selvi wrote Wednesday.
He added: "The chief prosecutor is not trying to shed light on the murder, he is trying to save the crown prince."
Istanbul, Oct 31 (AP/UNB) — Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul as part of a premeditated killing, and his body was dismembered before being disposed of, a top Turkish prosecutor said Wednesday.
A statement from chief Istanbul prosecutor Irfan Fidan's office also said that discussions with Saudi chief prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb have yielded no "concrete results" despite "good-willed efforts" by Turkey to uncover the truth.
The statement is the first public confirmation by a Turkish official that Khashoggi was strangled and dismembered after he entered the Saudi Consulate on Oct. 2 to collect paperwork needed to marry his Turkish fiancee.
The announcement came as Saudi Arabia's chief prosecutor, Saud al-Mojeb, ended a three-day visit to Istanbul during which he held talks with Fidan and other Turkish officials.
Turkey is seeking the extradition of 18 Saudi suspects detained in Saudi Arabia over the killing of Khashoggi. It is also pressing Saudi Arabia for information concerning Khashoggi's remains, which still haven't been found, as well as who ordered the journalist's slaying. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also called on Riyadh to disclose the identity of an alleged local collaborator said to have been involved in disposing of Khashoggi's body.
Khashoggi, a 59-year-old columnist for The Washington Post, vanished after entering the consulate in Istanbul to pick up paperwork for his upcoming marriage to his fiancee, who was waiting for him outside. A critic of the Saudi royal family, Khashoggi had been living in exile in the United States.
Turkey alleges a Saudi hit squad from Saudi Arabia — including a member of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's entourage during a trip to the United States— traveled to Istanbul to kill the journalist and then tried to cover it up.
Under mounting pressure, Saudi Arabia changed its narrative about Khashoggi's killing several times, eventually admitting that Khashoggi died inside the consulate and only recently acknowledging that Turkish evidence shows his killing was premeditated.
Saudi Arabia has not commented on the prosecutor's visit.