Sudan Professor Faces Capital Charges—Order to Release on Bail Cancelled

Updated: Apr 29, 2019

On May 11, 2017, Mudawi Ibrahim was charged with undermining the constitutional system and waging war against the State. Both charges potentially carry the death penalty.

Ibrahim is an internationally recognized human rights defender who won the inaugural 2005 Front Line Defenders Award. He is a professor of engineering at the University of Khartoum, runs his own engineering company, and is the founder and chairman of the Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO).

First Deputy State Prosecutor of Sudan Abdallah Othman Abdallah issued the decision on May 11, 2017. Abdallah stated that the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISS) had arrested the professor on charges of espionage, of working within a network and criminal organization against the State and in favor of foreign embassies in Khartoum. Ibrahim has also been accused of supporting armed movements in Darfur and fabricating information about the use of chemical weapons and genocide attempts against civilians by the Sudanese government–all to sabotage the image of the state to exert international pressure on Sudan and undermine the constitutional order.


Mudawi Ibrahim was arrested by NISS on December 7, 2016 from the University of Khartoum with his long-time driver, Adam El Sheikh Mukhtar. NISS did not notify Ibrahim's family that he was in custody until a week after his arrest. Nora Abaid, an accountant at Ibrahim's engineering company, Lambda Engineering, is also being detained. She was taken on December 12, 2016 by plain-clothes NISS officers in an unmarked car. She has received one family visit, after which there were concerns over her psychological well being.

NISS officials interrogated the three detainees twice during the initial week of their respective detentions and have not questioned them since. The reason for their arrest and detention remains unclear.

According to Human Rights Watch, two of Ibrahim's brothers were allowed a very short meeting supervised by the NISS on January 13, 2017. Family visited Ibrahim again on January 27 and persuaded him to temporarily abandon his hunger strike for the benefit of his health and to allow the family to make representations on his behalf to national institutions. Ibrahim agreed, though stated he would commence an open-ended hunger strike on February 2 unless the authorities issued formal charges or released him. The deadline has passed, and Ibrahim has started his second hunger strike, despite that he suffers from a long-standing heart condition.