26 November 2012

Somalia: BBC Journalist Held Without Charge

press release

Nairobi — Somali authorities must immediately release Ibrahim Mohamed Adan, a correspondent for the Somali service of the BBC, who has been held for nearly a week in Mogadishu without charge, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Security forces arrested Ibrahim on November 21 and accused him of falsely reporting that a Somali military court had ordered a soldier's execution, local journalists told CPJ. In his Somali-language report, which aired earlier in November, Ibrahim had interviewed a Somali who claimed his cousin, a soldier, had been executed.

Liban Ali Yarrow, chairman of the military court, ordered Ibrahim's arrest, saying the journalist was unable to verify the report, local journalists said. The military court summoned Ibrahim on November 17 and demanded that he either present evidence verifying his article or be imprisoned, the journalists said. Ibrahim was summoned on November 21 and subsequently arrested, news reports said.

Authorities transferred Ibrahim's case to a civilian court today, local journalists told CPJ. He is being held in the central prison in Mogadishu, the journalists said. No court date has been set nor any charges placed against him, local journalists said. Andres Ilves, head of the BBC Somali service, told CPJ that his organization would be investigating the case.

"Authorities are free to deny the allegations in the report but they should not be imprisoning a journalist because they dispute his account," CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes said. "Ibrahim Mohamed Adan should be released without delay."

While 2012 has been the deadliest year recorded by CPJ for journalist murders in Somalia, there have been far fewer cases of arbitrary journalist detentions or imprisonments than in previous years, according to CPJ research. CPJ documented only three cases of journalist arrests in Somalia in 2012, whereas CPJ research shows there were at least 10 cases in 2011 and 11 cases in 2010.

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