10 November 2008

Somalia: Journalist Arrested By Security Forces

press release

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has denounced the arrest of freelance journalist Hadis Mohammed Hadis in Hargeisa and is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

Hadis was arrested on 3 November 2008 at Igal International Airport by officers from Somaliland's Criminal Investigations Department (CID). According to journalists in Hargeisa, the arrest came after local residents witnessed Hadis filming two bombings in the city on 29 October and later talking on his phone about the incidents. The residents went to the CID headquarters to report on the journalist's activities, including the news that Hadis had visited a house raided by Somaliland police after the bombing.

"Arresting someone for filming a terror attack on the belief that they were somehow involved in the attack is intolerable," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. "We demand that Hadis Mohammed Hadis be released immediately and unconditionally, unless he is to be charged with a recognizable offence before an independent court."

Somaliland police reportedly consider Hadis to be a threat to national security.

"Any accusations against a journalist should be stated openly and dealt with fairly and quickly," said Faruk.

On 29 October, plainclothes police also briefly detained Mohammed Ahmed Ige, the editor of "Maandeeq" newspaper, and Abdullahi Said Muhumad, a reporter with the same media house.

"Somaliland must prevent its security agencies from suppressing media freedom, particularly during this time of soaring tensions," Faruk said. "Events such as these send a chill down the spine of journalists in Somaliland, who are already very susceptible to violence and intimidation."

Attacks against journalists and self-censorship among the media in Somaliland have increased since the two bombings. Journalists in Somaliland are regularly instructed by security officials to avoid reporting on cases that may "threaten Somaliland security."

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