The IPI global network condemns the arrest of four staff members of broadcaster Alaraby this week in Sudan and called on Sudanese authorities to fully guarantee journalist safety and press freedom in the country.

According to the broadcaster, on the afternoon of January 13 Sudanese security forces raided its Khartoum bureau and detained journalist Wael Mohammed Alhassan, cameraman Mazen Onou, camera assistant Abu Baker Ali, and office supervisor Islam Saleh.

An Alaraby representative told IPI that the four staff members were taken to the offices of military intelligence in Khartoum where they were questioned for several hours regarding their coverage of Sudan amid ongoing pro-democracy protests. They were released around 8 pm GMT. The staff members told the broadcaster they were beaten by security officers at several points during their detention and had their camera damaged.

“IPI strongly condemns the arrest of Alaraby’s staff members as a grave attack on press freedom. While we are relieved they are free again, they never should have been detained in the first place”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “We are extremely disturbed by reports that Alaraby’s staff members were subject to mistreatment and questioning over their legitimate journalistic activities in Sudan, and we demand a swift and full investigation by the Sudanese authorities into this unacceptable incident.

“Sudan must respect the right of journalists to cover the ongoing pro-democracy demonstrations, which are a matter of national and international public interest. We urgently call on the country’s security forces to refrain from any form of interference into the work of the media.”

The arrests came amid renewed demonstrations against Sudan’s military coup last year. On October 25, the military ousted the government of civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who was briefly reinstanted in November before resigning after failed talks with the military regarding the country’s political future.

Several other journalists have faced physical attack or detention in the aftermath of the coup, which also saw severe disruption of the country’s internet.