* Journalists complain of harassment, detention
* Police say yet to establish motive for killing
JUBA, Dec 6 (Reuters) - A South Sudanese blogger and
government critic has been shot dead in his home, a week after
unknown men threatened to kill him unless he stopped writing,
his family said on Thursday.
Police confirmed that Diing Chan Awuol, who wrote online
opinion pieces for newspapers and blogs, was shot in the face on
It was the first time a journalist has been killed in South
Sudan since it gained independence from the north in July last
Journalists have frequently complained of harassment and
detention by the new nation's security services. Last year, the
authorities closed a newspaper after it criticized President
Salva Kiir for allowing his daughter to marry a foreigner.
In his last piece, published by the Paris-based Sudan
Tribune website, Awuol broached a sensitive subject by calling
on Kiir's government to foster better ties with its old foe
Sudan and refrain from supporting rebel groups there.
The Khartoum government says the south backs rebels in two
Sudan border states. The south denies this and South Sudanese
newspapers usually support that stance.
A week before his death, Awuol, who wrote under the pen-name
Isaiah Abraham, complained that unknown men were attempting to
silence him, his brother William Chan said.
"He said he had received threats by phone. (They said)
'either stop writing or we will get rid of you'," Chan told
Police spokesman James Monday said an investigation had
begun and police were yet to identify the shooter or establish a
motive. No property was stolen from Awuol's house, Monday added.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
called on the government to investigate.
"By getting to the bottom of this murder and bringing the
perpetrators to justice, authorities in South Sudan can
demonstrate their commitment to the rule of law and freedom of
expression," said the CJP's East Africa consultant, Tom Rhodes.
France-based Reporters Without Borders ranks South Sudan
111th out of 179th in its 2011-2012 press freedom index.
Rhodes said he feared press freedom was declining as the
country's economic situation worsens and a government still
unaccustomed to criticism was becoming more intolerant of it.
In January, South Sudan shut down oil production, the
lifeline of the young republic, after tensions escalated with
the north over pipeline fees.
The two countries later came close to war.
Negotiators from Sudan and South Sudan are meeting in
Khartoum this week to try to end a deadlock over how to improve
border security, a step both say is needed to resume oil exports
from the landlocked south via the north.
(Reporting by Hereward Holland; Editing by Ulf Laessing and Tom