Sudan jails rights activists in spy, fake reports case

Rights activists Khalafalla Al-Afif, Midhat Hamdan and Mustafa Adam were arrested on May 23, 2016 after security agents raided their office in Khartoum

A Sudanese court on Sunday sentenced three human rights activists to a year each in jail after convicting them of publishing fake reports or spying, their lawyer said.

Khalafalla Al-Afif, Midhat Hamdan and Mustafa Adam were arrested on May 23 last year after security agents raided their office in Khartoum.

The three men worked for the Centre for Training and Human Development (TRACKS), a group providing training in human rights issues.

At a packed hearing attended by Western diplomats and many other rights activists, a judge found the three guilty and gave them each a one-year prison term, an AFP correspondent reported.

"The judge found Khalafalla Al-Afif and Midhat Hamdan guilty of publishing fake reports," defence lawyer Nabil Adeeb told AFP.

"Mustafa Adam was found guilty of spying," he said, adding that each activist was also fined 50,000 Sudanese pounds (about $7,460 [7,020 euros] at the official rate).

However, all three are expected to be freed soon as they have already been in custody for nearly nine months, which under the prison calendar is equivalent to a year.

Adeeb said the defence team will still appeal against Sunday's verdict.

During last year's raid on the group, security agents arrested a total of eight activists, but five were later released.

Global rights groups have regularly defended the three who were detained and called for their release.

The three "have become tragic symbols of the challenges faced by civil society in Sudan," said Alice Mogwe of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) in a statement released ahead of Sunday's sentencing.

"The future of Sudan's civil society is at stake and there are reasons to express deep concerns."

The FIDH said that throughout their trial the three were never presented with any evidence proving their guilt on the charges filed against them.

Global rights groups have regularly accused Sudan's powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) of detaining human rights workers and opposition politicians.

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