January 14, 2009 / 3:49 PM / 11 years ago

Sudan media executive held over land article

JUBA, Sudan (Reuters) - A south Sudanese newspaper executive on Wednesday said he was detained after his tabloid published an article criticizing a senior army officer for his role in a tribal land deal.

Isaac Swangin, managing director of the Juba Post, is the second senior media figure in the region detained over controversial articles in recent months.

Freedom of the press was guaranteed under a 2005 peace deal that ended more than two decades of civil war between north and south Sudan and set up a semi-autonomous southern government. But editors and journalists in both north and south complain of continued censorship, print-run seizures and harassment.

Swangin said the Juba Post was one of a number of newspapers that published a press release from the Madi tribal community complaining southern soldiers from the majority Dinka tribe were selling their land to Somali investors without permission.

A major general mentioned by name in the statement later demanded a printed apology at the paper’s office in the south’s capital Juba, he added. Swangin said the paper refused, but interviewed the army official and ran an article including his perspective.

“We thought that was the end,” Swangin said, “but he came back yesterday with the police.”

Swangin said he was released on bail on Tuesday evening after being held in prison for nine hours. It was unclear whether he would face charges.

Nhial Bol, editor and owner of the daily Citizen newspaper, was held in a police station for three days in October over an article criticizing high salaries in south Sudan’s legal ministry.

Reporting by Skye Wheeler, editing by Andrew Heavens and Mark Trevelyan

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