JUNE 19, 2005
Updated: July 25, 2005
Abdi Farah Nur, Shacab
Police in the autonomous Puntland region of northeast Somalia arrested Farah, editor of the weekly Shacab (The People), after the newspaper resumed publication in defiance of an indefinite government suspension. Farah was not immediately charged, but was being held in a Garowe jail, Shacab General Manager Abdirahman Abdulle told CPJ.
On June 23 a court ordered his transfer to a top-security prison for an undetermined period, pending investigations. Abdulle told CPJ that the newspaper’s management had decided to resume publication after failing to persuade authorities to lift the May suspension order.
On May 5, the Puntland government ordered Shacab “temporarily suspended” for an undetermined period for publishing unspecified articles that it claimed could lead to unrest. A presidential decree issued after a cabinet meeting cited the government’s constitutional responsibility to uphold the unity of Puntland. Fearing arrest at the time, management decided to suspend publication while seeking to contest the ban via legal representation and negotiation, according to Abdulle. But, he said, authorities showed no sign that they would lift the suspension any time soon.
In April, Shacab editor Farah and reporter Abdirashid Qoransey were detained, tried, and acquitted on charges of incitement and insulting the president. Those charges were based on a mid-April article suggesting that citizens with complaints about the Puntland government contact their representatives in Parliament; and a reader’s letter criticizing authorities, according to Farah.
Farah was released without charge on July 5. However, the suspension order remains in place, and Farah still fears for his security, according to local sources.