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03 March 2024

Sudan expels foreign newsman

The Sudanese government on Sunday expelled a foreign correspondent that had been covering the civil war in Darfur ahead of an expected decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on whether to pursue legal proceedings against the president.

Zuhir Latif, a Tunisian who worked for the Arabic service of France 24 television as well as the pan-Arabic daily Al-Hayat, was detained on Friday. "He was expelled this evening," a senior Sudanese official told AFP.

Last month, Latif filmed footage of deadly clashes between government troops and rebels of the Justice and Equality Movement around the Darfur town of Muhajiriya. The fighting, in which the town was retaken by forces allied to the government, came just before a confidence-building deal between the Khartoum regime and JEM leaders.

Sudanese security forces seized material from Latif's Khartoum flat at the time of his detention, friends said, asking not to be identified. Latif himself said in an email to AFP late Sunday: "I have been definitively expelled from Sudan. They took all my material, my camera, cassettes, the telephones, personal documents and even bank statements. I spent 48 hours in a cell."

On Saturday, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders had demanded explanations from the government about Latif's treatment. The authorities said he was being held for overstepping the bounds of his permission to enter Sudan. Media here said he was a British national of Tunisian descent, but a British embassy spokesman told AFP this was not the case. However the Sudanese official said he left for London.

Last July, chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked the ICC to issue a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese Presisdent Omar al-Beshir on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur.

The court is expected to announce its decision on Wednesday.