Two journalists imprisoned in Puntland; radio station shuttered

New York, July 5, 2005—The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply troubled by the imprisonment of two radio journalists in Bossasso, a city in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland. Sheekh Aduun, director of the Bossasso radio affiliate of the private STN network, and Awale Jama, an editor at the station, have been in police detention since June 30, according to local sources.

Puntland authorities shuttered the Bossasso station the same day, STN director Omar Nur Guutaale told CPJ from Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.

Local sources told CPJ that the arrests stem from the radio station’s reporting on the mayoral campaign in Bossasso. Police officers told the Somali Journalists Network (SOJON) that the journalists were accused of broadcasting “false information,” and that their arrests were ordered by Puntland’s public prosecutor. Jama and Aduun (whose real name is Abdirisak Omar Ismail) were imprisoned following a broadcast interview with one of the mayoral candidates, SOJON reported.

Puntland Information Minister Abdirisak Abdulle Gesod told CPJ that he was not aware of the arrests.

Another Puntland journalist, Shacab editor Abdi Farah Nur, remains in prison since his arrest on June 19. Local journalists believe his detention is linked to critical articles in Shacab about the Puntland leadership and Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Police in the city of Garowe detained Farah after he resumed publication of the independent weekly, which the Puntland government had ordered suspended.

“Authorities in Puntland are doing a great disservice to their citizens by silencing the local independent press,” said Ann Cooper, CPJ’s executive director. “Sheekh Aduun, Awale Jama, and Abdi Farah Nur should be released immediately and unconditionally, and STN’s Bossasso-based radio station should be allowed to reopen immediately.”