Reporters Without Borders (RSF) welcomes the release of two Djiboutian journalists, one of them its own correspondent, and calls on Djibouti's authorities to stop using arrest to intimidate the few reporters still trying to provide independent coverage of events in their country.
Mohamed Ibrahim Wais, RSF's correspondent and a reporter for the diaspora radio station La Voix de Djibouti (LVD), was released yesterday afternoon, his lawyer told RSF. The police did not return the laptop they took from him when arresting him on 7 June. He was arrested while trying to obtain new information about Lt. Fouad Youssouf Ali, a Djiboutian air force pilot who circulated videos critical of President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh's government after deserting and who, after his arrest, smuggled another video out of his prison about the conditions in which he is being held. Kassim Nouh Abar, another LVD correspondent who was covering the same story, was released on 8 June, three days after he was arrested as he was leaving his home in Djibouti City.
RSF had mobilized its network in support of the two detained journalists and had undertaken several initiatives to advocate for their release.
"We are relieved by the release of these two journalists, who simply covered what is a major news story in their country," said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF's Africa desk. "No matter how big the story, it does not justify arresting the few journalists still trying to provide independent coverage of what is happening in Djibouti. We call on the authorities to put a stop to these repeated arrests, which constitute intimidation."
Djibouti is ranked 176th out of 180 countries and territories in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index, three places lower than in 2019.