Somalia: NUSOJ Strongly Condemns Suspension of Leading Independent TV Station and Arrest of Editor-in-Chief in Somaliland

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) vehemently condemns the forceful and illegal suspension of operations of Horn Cable TV, a leading Hargeisa based independent television network, and arrest of its editor-in-chief.

Before suspending the operations of HornCable TV and ordering the staff of the station to vacate the premises at around 9 am today, Somaliland police also arrested Abdulkadir Sulaiman Asayr, aka Odey, editor in chief of Horn Cable TV who was arrested after he was summoned at the Crimes Investigations Department of Somaliland Police, according to Mohamed Abdi Ilig, Director General of HornCable TV who spoke to NUSOJ.

The Somaliland Ministry of Information and Culture lodged yesterday afternoon a criminal complaint against Horn Cable TV and requested the police to indefinitely suspend the work of the television network and arrest Abdulkadir Sulaiman Asayr for "breaching the law" and "inciting public against the government", according to complaint read out by police to Asayr when he was being arrested.

"We have been facing an organized campaign from the Somaliland government to silence HornCable TV and deny us to practice independent journalism without any influences in our news content. We are already in court to respond to legal complaints by the government, and this morning we were unlawfully suspended and our editor detained," Mohamed Abdi Ilig, Director General of HornCable TV, told NUSOJ

"We strongly condemn the obliteration of media freedom in Somaliland. Today's suspension of HornCable TV and arrest of its editor-in-chief Abdulkadir Sulaiman Asayr is a gross violation of journalists' rights in Somaliland, and restricts the space for freedom of expression even further in Somaliland and curtails the rights of the public to access information on issues of public interest," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary-General.

The suspension of HornCable TV and arrest of Abdulkadir Sulaiman Asayr are happening when HornCable TV was in Hargeisa court in the past 2 days to respond to complaints lodged by Somaliland ministry of air transport and civil aviation about news report that the TV aired regarding the management of Hargeisa airport and workers sacked from the airport.

NUSOJ calls on Somaliland authorities to halt their sustained repression of journalists and independent media houses. The union is highly alarmed by the onslaught on Somaliland media outlets and journalists that has intensified dramatically since the crackdown on freedom of expression started last year.

"This latest act against media freedom confirms that Somaliland authorities want to repress any free voice in Somaliland. We call on Somaliland to respect the human rights to freedom of expression, lift suspension from HornCable TV, drop concocted charges against HornCable journalists and release immediately and unconditionally Abdulkadir Sulaiman Asayr" added Osman.

HornCable TV is the leading independent television network in Somalia with its headquarters in Hargeisa, Somaliland.

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