KHARTOUM — A Sudanese journalist was jailed for a month on Tuesday, and her editor fined, for publishing reports on the alleged rape of a female opposition activist by security force personnel, their lawyer said.
Fatima Ghazali is the first of several journalists to be tried for articles they wrote about Safiya Ishaq, a youth activist who claimed in videos posted online that she was raped repeatedly by three security officers after her arrest in Khartoum in February.
Ishaq has since fled the country.
The judge at a court in Khartoum convicted Ghazali of publishing lies and ordered her to pay a fine of 2,000 Sudanese pounds ($625) or spend a month in prison, the lawyer Hassan Abdullah al-Hussein told AFP.
He said she chose to go to prison.
Saad al-Din Ibrahim, her editor-in-chief at the Sudanese daily Al-Jarida, was ordered to pay a fine of 5,000 Sudanese pounds.
Amal Habani, who worked for Al-Jarida before she was sacked, is due to be tried on July 14, while another five journalists and editors who have been charged with the same offence, are also waiting for their cases to be heard.
Reporters Without Borders last month accused the authorities in north Sudan of harassing and prosecuting journalists in an attempt to stop them making embarrassing revelations about human rights violations by the security forces.
“While the international community and media have their attention turned to south Sudan?s future independence and the fighting in Abyei and South Kordofan, the human rights and media freedom situation continues to be very worrying in the north,” the Paris-based media watchdog said.
South Sudan is set to gain international recognition on Saturday, when Sudan’s interim constitution will also expire.
Some journalists fear much tighter restrictions on press freedom under a new constitution in the north, where the government has also threatened to reinforce sharia, or Islamic law.