Reporting rape is damaging to the image of Sudan.
Sudan arrested one of the most prominent international aid workers in the country yesterday, for claiming that there was evidence of widespread rape in the Darfur region.
Paul Foreman, the country head of the aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Holland, has been charged with crimes against the state and faces three years in jail if convicted.
MSF Holland released the report in March, saying its doctors working in Darfur had medical evidence of about 500 rape cases over four-and-a-half months.
The Sudanese government, embarrassed by the attention drawn to its campaign of genocide in Darfur, has cranked up the pressure on aid agencies over the past six months.
The Oxfam country director was ordered out at the end of last year, and a number of aid workers, including Rafe Bullick from Edinburgh, have been killed.
Yesterday, Mohamed Farid, Sudan's attorney-general, said the report was false and that the government had begun criminal proceedings because MSF should have consulted and co-ordinated with the governmental Humanitarian Aid Commission before publishing any such information.
He said: "These kind of false reports damage the image of Sudan. We need the organisation MSF to do its medical work in Sudan ... and to be present here," he said. "But it has to do its work in its specific capacity, and this is not within its capacity here."
Meanwhile in China:
A journalist considered the doyen of China correspondents has been held in Beijing and could be charged with stealing state secrets after he tried to obtain a copy of interviews with Zhao Ziyang, the Communist leader who was purged after the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
Ching Cheong, a Hong Kong national who works for The Straits Times, a Singaporean newspaper, would be the first reporter for a foreign publication to face charges in China.
His wife, Mary Lau, said: “He told me that he expected to be shut up for a long time. It seems they suspect him of stealing state secrets.” Mr Ching, 55, was detained in the southern city of Guangzhou on April 22. He had been trying to obtain a copy of interviews with the late Zhao, who opposed the use of military force to suppress the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Untold hundreds died when troops moved in to break up the student-led demonstration. Zhao, who died in January, was deposed as general secretary and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.
Mr Ching’s detention is evidence of the tight state grip on the media in China, which last year, according to the New York-based Committee to Protest Journalists, was holding 42 journalists in its jails.