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Sudan August 29, 2006
H.E. Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir
Office of the President
Revolutionary Command Council
Republic of The Sudan
We write to express our concern that Paul Salopek, a distinguished journalist, has been arrested in Sudan and charged with espionage and illegal entry of the country. The Overseas Press Club of America, an independent organization of international journalists founded in 1939, assures you that Mr. Salopek is a respected and thoroughly ethical reporter who would never jeopardize his professional standing by engaging in spying. As we are sure you will find in your investigation, Mr. Salopek traveled openly with a driver and an interpreter and made no effort to hide his work. While it is unfortunate that he entered Sudan without a visa, that has become a relatively common expedient for journalists frustrated by your government’s reluctance to issue them.
Mr. Salopek, a correspondent for the Chicago Tribune who is on leave to work on a story for National Geographic magazine, has frequently reported on Africa, and his current project is a study of the culture, history and politics of the Sahel region. His professional standing is attested by the fact that he has won two Pulitzer prizes, which are among the most prestigious awards in journalism. We have also honored him with several Citations (Honorable Mentions) in the Overseas Press Club Awards.
We are dismayed to learn that Mr. Salopek was held incommunicado for nearly two weeks after his arrest and was given access to legal advice only ten days ago, but it is gratifying that the trial judge has granted a delay to prepare his defense. We hope and trust that the espionage charge will be dismissed for the absurdity it is, and that Mr. Salopek’s lack of a visa will be treated as a minor offense.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We would appreciate a reply.
Norman A. Schorr
Co-chairmen, Freedom of the Press Committee
Khidir Haroun Ahmed
Embassy of the Republic of Sudan
2310 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington , DC 20008
Fax: (202) 667-2406
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Sudan
to the United Nations
655 Third Avenue, Suite 500 – 510
New York , NY 10017
Fax: (212) 573-6160
Kelly G. Taylor, Ambassador
Embassy of the United States of America
Ali Abdel Latif St .
Fax: 011 249 183 774137