The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and journalists, has urged the government of Sudan to immediately release Osman Mirghani, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Al-Tayar, who has been in detention at an undisclosed location since February 22.

According to information gathered by IPI, Mirghani was arrested at his office by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). His current whereabouts are not known. He was scheduled to appear in court on February 26, but the NISS did not produce him. No charges have been filed against him.

“Sudan’s besieged President Omar al-Bashir is using the security forces to muzzle independent media in the country in the hope that anti-government protests can be quelled by silencing critical journalists and preventing coverage of the demonstrations”, IPI Director of Advocacy Ravi R. Prasad said, demanding that Mirghani be immediately released to receive urgent medical attention for acute diabetes.

Family members of Mirghani, a U.S.-educated engineer who became a journalist, told IPI that they had not been allowed to meet him and did not know where he was being kept. They also said that Mirghani lost an eye five years ago in a targeted attack carried out by unidentified persons believed to be government officials.

Since the beginning of demonstrations against President al-Bashir in December 2018, Sudan has witnessed a crackdown against journalists. According to the Sudanese Journalists Network more than 70 journalists have been detained. On Thursday, March 7, the security forces detained two journalists and inspected their laptops and phone before releasing them.

“The government of Sudan is paranoid about independent journalists, who are fearlessly reporting about the demonstrations and the high-handed response of the government. It should stop intimidating journalists and release all those who are in prison”, Prasad said.

To curb the uprising against his government, President al-Bashir declared a state of emergency on February 22, which bans protests, public gathering and political activity. It also gives sweeping powers to security forces to detain demonstrators and those opposing the government. Despite the proclamation of emergency, protests have continued unabated. In January, Sudan withdrew the accreditation of three journalists with the Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera.