CPJ concerned about jailed journalist

New York, May 19, 2004—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has confirmed that Abdishakur Yusuf Ali, editor of the independent weekly War-Ogaal, has been in jail without charge for almost one month in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland in Somalia.

Abdishakur was arrested on April 21 after War-Ogaal published an article accusing Puntland Finance Minister Abdirahman Mohamud Farole of corruption, said local journalists. The report claimed that Farole had sold food aid donated by the international community.

Local journalists say that Abdishakur is being held in an overcrowded and unsanitary cell, and that he is being pressured to sign a statement admitting to publishing false information.

Puntland Information Minister Abdikarim Ali Mahdi confirmed that the journalist remains imprisoned. He told CPJ that the finance minister wants an apology but denied that Abdishakur is being pressured to give one.

The journalist was recently moved from a police station in the coastal Puntland city of Bossasso to a nearby prison.

“We are extremely concerned about our colleague Abdishakur Yusuf Ali, who has been imprisoned for almost one month without charge,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “We call on Puntland authorities to release him immediately.”