20 December 2017

Somalia: Somaliland Journalist Detained Without Charge Over False News Claim

Photo: Abdurrahman Warsameh/IPS
A total of 49 journalists were killed since 1992 in Somalia.

Police in Gabiley arrested Abdirisak Dayib Ali on December 5, 2017 for allegedly publishing a false report on the news website Gabiley News earlier that month, according to his lawyer, Guleid Ahmed Jama, and Mohamud Abdi Jama, chair of the Somaliland Journalists Association (SOLJA).

Abdirisak was arrested after responding to a police summons about a story published on Gabiley News that accused the city's mayor, Mahamed Omar, of criminal activity, Mohamud told CPJ. The mayor told CPJ the report is false.

Guleid, who also chairs the Human Rights Center-Somaliland, told CPJ that when he spoke with Abdirisak, the journalist denied having anything to do with the article or the website.

Mohamud, who has also spoken with one of Abdirisak's relatives, told CPJ that the journalist said that he designed the Gabiley News site in in 2015 but has not been involved in its operations since then. Mohamud said that he was told the site is run by a Somali who lives abroad. Abdirisak is currently the director of a separate news site, Haldoornews.

The mayor of Gabiley told CPJ that Abdirisak was listed as a contact and administrator at the time the article was published.

CPJ tried calling a German phone number and sending an email to the contact details provided on Gabiley News, but as of December 20, 2017, it had not received a response.

A court on December 7 ordered Abdirisak to be detained for seven days, Guleid told CPJ. The journalist's next scheduled court appearance on December 14 was not held and authorities did not provide a reason why, according to Mohamud and Guleid.

Gulied told CPJ that on December 20, 2017 that police have submitted an official charge but that he had not yet seen it and did not know the exact details of the charge.

Somaliland's national police commissioner, Abdullahi Fadal Iman did not respond to calls and a text message from CPJ asking for comment.

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