Puntland authorities persecute former radio station manager

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Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the persecution of journalists in northeastern Somalia’s autonomous Puntland region, including Ahmed Sheikh Mohamed, who has been held since his arrest on 17 October after being forced to stand down as the manager of a popular radio station.

Also known as “Tallman,” Mohamed was due to appear in court yesterday in Garowe, Puntland’s capital, on charges of public incitement and defamation, but the hearing was adjourned until tomorrow.

 

The authorities have had Mohamed in their sights ever since early September, when his radio station, Radio Daljir, reported that a detainee had died as a result of having been tortured during police interrogation.

 

After a police raid on the radio station, Mohamed was summoned to appear before a military court on 28 September but, because of an outcry about the case, the court ruled that it was not competent to try a civilian and issued an apology. The Puntland authorities nonetheless forced him to resign as Radio Daljir’s manager and finally arrested him.

 

“We strongly condemn the way the local authorities are persecuting this journalist and, indeed, all of Puntland’s independent media,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “We call on Somalia’s federal government and all of the country’s partners to put pressure on the Puntland authorities to release this journalist and to end their harassment of media outlets that try to perform a watchdog role.”

 

RSF already denounced the sharp decline in media freedom in Puntland in a press release on 24 September, two days after the information minister told journalists they would have to register with his ministry and threatened to revoke the accreditations of those who did not act in a sufficiently professional manner. In early September, he closed the Puntland Times news website after it covered a protest by ministry employees demanding back pay.

 

Mohamed is the second journalist to be jailed in Somalia in the past few weeks. Freelancer Abdulkadir Barre Moallim has been held without any formal charge in Baidoa, the capital of the southwestern Bay region, since 25 September, after he covered a rally by opponents of the region’s president.

 

Somalia is ranked 164th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.

RSF

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