South Sudan’s authorities have shut down a prominent newspaper, the Nation Mirror after it published details of a report released by a U.S.-based group alleging misuse of state funds by the nation’s leaders, the editor confirmed.
The newspaper’s headline on Tuesday’s read “Kiir, Machar, Top Generals, Implicated in Sentry Corruption Report”.
The Sentry report accused leaders on both sides of the civil war and their families of profiting from the conflict, amassing fortunes through links with bankers, arms dealers and oil companies. Spokesmen for Kiir and Machar denied the charges.
According to Editor Aurelions Simon Cholee, the authorities did not give a reason for closing the paper, which has a daily print of about 2,500 copies and a website. But he said it might be linked to the publication of the U.S. Sentry report on corruption.
A message posted on its official facebbook page reads “The National Security in Juba order forced closure of the Nation Mirror Newspaper today. There was no reason cited by the security. However, the paper would inform its readership on any development”.
There was no immediate government comment, and it was not immediately clear how long the closure would last but many believe the move will add to concerns by rights groups about media freedoms in South Sudan. The authorities have detained journalists and temporarily closed media outlets as the five-year-old African nation has been convulsed by civil conflict.
Cholee said security officials summoned the editorial leadership and ordered the paper closed, saying it “indulges in activities that are incompatible with its status”.
“This is what we could not understand what status do they mean or what activities,” Cholee said. “We don’t really know whether it is in connection with the Sentry report or our previous issue (with the authorities).”
The paper was temporarily closed in 2015 when it wrote an article related to the withdrawal of government forces from a region in the north of the country during a civil war that erupted at the end of 2013.