Ibrahim al-Sonosi, the deputy of Sudan’s veteran Islamist opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi, said he was freed on Monday after nearly six months in jail for “trying to destroy the regime.”
Sonosi, who is over 70 years old, and another senior member of Turabi’s Popular Congress Party (PCP), Ali Shamar, were detained at Khartoum airport without explanation in December after returning from a trip to Kenya and South Sudan.
“I have been detained for five months, without knowing the date and the time. I had no contact with the outside world... They took me to prison and charged me with trying to destroy the regime,” Sonosi said.
He was also accused of having contact with Darfur rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), something to which he admitted, saying that by talking to them and returning to Khartoum, he had hoped to “benefit Sudan.”
“And they accused me of having communications with South Sudan, which I do not think is a crime,” Sonosi added.
The PCP’s human rights secretary, Hassan Abdullah al-Hussein, said in May that the two party members had been accused of “destroying the constitutional system of the state, creating war against the state and creating war against the Sudanese Armed Forces.”
But he insisted the authorities had no evidence against them.
In February, Turabi accused the Sudanese intelligence services of bugging the party’s offices, and said intelligence agents falsely accused the party of planning a coup in combination with a popular uprising.
The once-powerful opposition leader said his party admitted to seeking the removal of the 23-year-old Islamist regime of Omar al-Bashir through a popular revolution, but not by force.
Turabi was a key figure in Bashir’s regime for a decade before falling out with the president and becoming one of his most outspoken critics.
The Khartoum authorities have long accused him of having links with JEM, a charge the most heavily armed Darfur rebel movement has denied.
Turabi himself was jailed for more than three months last year after warning that Sudan faced a possible revolt similar to the one in Tunisia, where strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted in a mass uprising that sparked the Arab Spring.