190730 Sudan
People take part in a protest in Khartoum, Sudan on July 18 (FILE). Image Credit: AP

Khartoum: A top Sudanese editor who had been detained last week in the capital Khartoum was freed on Monday, a senior member of the journalists’ union that he heads said.

Sadiq Al Rizaigi’s arrest on Wednesday had come at a time when the military arrested a top general, several security officers and Islamist leaders over a foiled coup attempt that the army announced earlier this month.

Rizaigi, who heads the Sudanese Journalists’ Union, has been freed, a member of the union’s board Osama Abdelmajid said.

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“We still don’t know why he had been detained,” Abdelmajid said.

The union had called on Sudan’s ruling Transitional Military Council to “immediately release” Rizaigi, a prominent Islamist and editor of Al-Sayha newspaper, or that he be put on trial.

A senior journalist from Rizaigi’s newspaper had told AFP after his arrest that security forces had taken him away from outside the newspaper’s premises.

On Wednesday, the military announced several arrests in connection with a foil coup attempt.

It said it had arrested General Hashim Abdel Mottalib, the head of the joint chiefs of staff, and a number of officers from the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) along with leaders of the Islamic Movement and the National Congress Party.

On July 11, the military announced it had foiled a coup attempt without specifying when it took place.

Sudanese media also reported that among those arrested was General Bakri Hassan Saleh, a former first vice president and prime minister and a prominent figure in the 1989 coup that brought now ousted president Omar al-Bashir to power.

Also arrested was Ali Karty, a former foreign minister and Zubair Ahmed Hassan, an ex-finance minister, according to the reports.

During Bashir’s three-decade rule, the press was severely curtailed, according to media activists.

NISS agents cracked down regularly on journalists or confiscated entire print-runs of newspapers for publishing articles deemed critical of Bashir’s policies.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) recorded at least 100 cases of journalists being arrested during the months of protests that finally led to Bashir’s ouster in April.

RSF ranks Sudan 175th out of 180 countries in its 2019 World Press Freedom Index.