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Cambridge Uni student facing death penalty is in 'hellhole'

PICTURED: Peter Biar Ajak (Image: Peter Biar Ajak/Twitter)

A CAMBRIDGE University student facing the death penalty in South Sudan after criticising the government is being detained in a “hellhole” his lawyer has said.

Peter Biar Ajak, an outspoken critic of the South Sudanese government, was arrested last July by South Sudan’s National Security Service.

His detention is “in clear violation of his rights under international law”, the BBC reported Ajak’s lawyer said.

Ajak’s case has recently been raised in the US Congress by congresswoman Madeleine Dean.

The 35-year-old father-of-two, who lived in the United States for a time, studied at Philadelphia’s La Salle University and Harvard. He was more recently as PhD student at Cambridge University.

Amnesty International, which is campaigning for Ajak’s freedom, has said he has only been allowed sporadic family visits during his detention and that he has not been charged with any offence.

Last year, in a joint statement, the heads of Mission in Juba of Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, said they were “deeply troubled” by Ajak’s arrest and detention.

They said: “We therefore call on the government to either release Peter Biar Ajak, or to bring charges against him in a timely manner in accordance with the rule of law and to grant him access to a lawyer. We also call on the government and all parties to the conflict to encourage, support and safeguard the right of any individual to freedom of opinion and expression.”

Cambridge University has also called on the South Sudanese government to release Ajak or to “bring charges against him in a timely manner in accordance with the rule of law and to grant him access to a lawyer”.

Earlier this month a march was held as part of a show of solidarity with Ajak.

Supporters marched from Trinity College to Senate House to raise awareness of Ajak’s plight.

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