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Sudan shuts down Sky news Arabia, Al-Arabia TV offices

Sudanese authorities shut down offices of satellite channels Al-Arabiya and Sky News Arabia in a new crackdown against foreign media outlets

AFP , Saturday 28 Sep 2013
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Views: 4250

Sudan shut down the Khartoum offices of pan-Arab satellite channels Al-Arabiya and Sky News Arabia on Friday, the fifth day of mass protests against fuel price hikes, the networks said.

Al-Arabiya said on its website that the closure -- the first such move against a foreign media outlet since the protests began -- came hours after its Khartoum correspondent was summoned for a meeting.

Sky News correspondent in Khartoum Tarek al-Tijani told AFP authorities shut his office, seized equipment and banned him from working.

"Security officers came and informed us that the authorities had decided to freeze our activities. They seized equipment and told us we can no longer carry out journalistic activities," Tijani said.

The Sudanese government could not immediately be reached for comment.

The protests over fuel price hikes are the largest of President Omar al-Bashir's 24-year rule, and young activists have used chants made famous during the Arab Spring to call for his downfall.

Rights groups accuse security forces of having gunned down more than 50 people, and Internet access across the country was cut on Friday for the second time this week. It was later resumed, users said.

Authorities, who have acknowledged 29 deaths since Monday, sought to impose a blackout on the unrest by seizing or blocking publication of three Sudanese newspapers Friday, journalists said.

The dailies Al-Sudani and Al-Majhar al-Siassi were seized at the printing press, they said, while Al-Watan was ordered not to print after covering the unrest in its Thursday edition.

Al-Arabiya and Sky News Arabia are both based in the United Arab Emirates.

Al-Arabiya, owned by a Saudi businessman with close ties to the ruling Al-Saud family, runs its operations from Dubai and is a rival of the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera, with the two Arab news networks often taking opposing views on regional events.

Sky News Arabia has its headquarters in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi and is a joint venture between London-based BSkyB and the Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation.

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