US Somali-American Congresswoman Condemns NISA’s attacks on Press Freedom & Intimidation

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MINNEAPOLIS—Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) released the following statement after Somalia labeled Voice of America journalist Harun Maruf a “threat” to security.

“In my work as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and as a Member of Congress, protecting the right to press freedom has been absolutely central to my policies and beliefs. Whether it is demanding accountability for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, advocating for the release of imprisoned journalists, or insisting on the right of the press to cover domestic issues without intimidation here at home, I make no exceptions in my view that a free press is fundamental to an open, democratic society.

“The ongoing intimidation campaign by Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency against Harun Maruf is deeply disturbing. These attacks, along with the April 14 arrest of Abdiaziz Ahmed Gurbiye for his work covering the impacts of COVID-19 in Somalia, are an unacceptable violation of basic human rights.

“The Somali central government has made crucial strides towards openness and the genuine protection of rights in the last several years, and I have been a staunch advocate for debt relief and other measures to help continue this progress. The increasing harassment, intimidation, and arrest of journalists including Harun and Abdiaziz threaten that progress, and I call on the Somali government to immediately cease these attacks on freedom of speech and freedom of the press.”

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