KHARTOUM: A Sudanese court dropped charges of forming a terrorist organization and released two men, one a US resident, yesterday, in one the first trials of people arrested during a spate of anti-government protests that broke out in June.
Sudan avoided the Arab Spring uprisings that unseated rulers in neighbouring Libya and Egypt last year, but austerity measures taken to cope with an economic crisis led to small demonstrations calling for the government to resign.
Sudanese activists say more than 1,000 people have been detained for taking part in such protests, though the number cannot be verified independently.
Security forces arrested Radwan Daoud, whose origins are in Sudan's western Darfur region, and Ahmed Ali Mahjoub last month at a house in a Khartoum suburb.
Daoud has legal permanent resident status in the United States, according to the US embassy in Sudan.
The court dropped charges, filed by state prosecutors, against the two men of forming a terrorist organization and ordered their release, judge Abbas Halifax told the court session.
He ordered Daoud to pay 500 Sudanese pounds ($90) for planning to burn tyres during a protest. Authorities had earlier said they found political materials calling for demonstrations and regime change in the house.
Activists led by students have tried to use public anger over rising food prices to build a broader movement to topple President Omar Hassan Bashir's government.
The crisis is rooted largely in the secession of oil-producing South Sudan a year ago. The new nation took about three-quarters of Sudan's crude oil output, leaving Sudan with a budget deficit, high inflation and a depreciating currency.