Sudanese Editor Beaten Unconscious After Calling for Ties With Israel

Attack comes at end of day with especially bloody images from Gaza, but victim's newspaper was also targeted by gov't for its anti-corruption articles.

Sudanese editor Osman Mirghani after beating.
Sudanese editor Osman Mirghani after beating, July 19, 2014. Screenshot Al Arabiya (photo courtesy Al-Tayar)

A Sudanese newspaper editor-in-chief who recently called on his country to forge ties with Israel, and whose newspaper has been shut down for criticizing government corruption, was beaten unconscious Saturday night by armed men who broke into the newsroom, AFP reports.

The attack on Al-Tayar's Osman Mirghani by several gunmen took place at the end of a day that produced especially wrenching images of Gazans killed in the fighting with Israel. A few days ago Mirghani had gone on local television and called for Islamist Sudan to normalize relations with Israel.

However, Al-Tayar, which follows a reformist Islamic orientation, has been shut down in recent years for publishing articles critical of government corruption, including one commentary that leveled accusations at Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir himself, a highly risky venture. On July 5 national security agents seized Al-Tayar's press run, a common measure in Sudan against unruly publications.

Sudanese journalist Faisal Mohammed Salih said from the hospital where Mirghani lay unconscious that Al-Tayar reporters in the newsroom during the attack told him the gunmen "just started beating him on the head and legs, using guns and sticks."

Salih said he was told that the gunmen then "ordered the journalists to lie down. They collected all the mobile phones and the laptops. They cut all the computer connections," before turning on Mirghani in his office.

Sudan ranked 170th out 179 countries in Reporters Without Frontiers' 2013 World Press Freedom index.