Sudan flip-flops on release of Egyptian fishermen: Foreign ministry
Ahram Online , Friday 24 Jul 2015

Egypt's foreign ministry said Friday that Sudanese authorities had backtracked on their decision a day earlier to release 101 Egyptian fishermen who were detained for a territorial breach.

The ministry's spokesman, Badr Abdel-Aty, said late Thursday that Khartoum had ordered the release of a group of Egyptian fishermen who were arrested over three months ago on accusations of trespassing in Sudanese territorial waters.

But the spokesman said Friday that Khartoum had quashed the release decision.

"There have been contacts with Sudanese authorities to identify the reasons behind the retraction and the cancellation of the release decision," Abdel-Aty told Al-Ahram Arabic news website, without elaborating.

It was not immediately clear if the men were released and re-arrested, or were not allowed to walk free in the first place.

One hundred and eight Egyptian fishermen, who were bound for Eritrea aboard three boats, were arrested on 7 April and detained in the coastal city of Port Sudan. However, seven of those – six minors and an elderly man – were later released.

The rest were put on trial, which was adjourned by a Sudanese court on Wednesday to 28 July.

Several Sudanese media outlets said that authorities had demanded that Egypt release 24 Sudanese miners believed to be held in Egyptian prisons in exchange for the release of the Egyptian nationals.

This is not the first time in recent years that Khartoum has arrested Egyptian fishermen for encroaching on Sudanese waters.