Radio station closed, editor and technician arrested

January 14, 2006

Radio Las Anod
Faysal Jama’ Adan, Radio Las Anod
Jamal Suleyman Warsame, Radio Las Anod

Police closed Radio Las Anod, arresting director Adan, editor Warsame, and an unidentified technician, according to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and local news media monitored by the BBC. NUSOJ quoted the local police commander, Col. Ali Qase, as saying that the order came from regional authorities, although he did not know the reason.

Radio Las Anod is privately owned, according to NUSOJ. It is the only radio station in Las Anod, the main city in the disputed Sool region, which lies between the self-declared republic of Somaliland and the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland. It is currently administered by Puntland.

Sources in Las Anod told NUSOJ the closure and arrests stemmed from the station’s coverage of a children’s vaccination program, which was organized by UNICEF in Somaliland and due to start in the city. Puntland authorities decided to move the program to the Puntland capital, Garowe. The sources said Radio Las Anod had opened its air waves to local residents who criticized the decision.

Adan, Warsame, and the technician were freed without charge but spent most of the day in custody. The radio station was allowed to reopen on January 16 following negotiations between the station management and local authorities. The station agreed to respect the laws of Puntland and “the unity of Somalia,” while authorities agreed not to take any action against Radio Las Anod without first talking to its management, according to NUSOJ.

The station had come under fire before. On December 10, Adan and reporters Jamal Farajar and Abdiqani Haji were beaten by Puntland security forces following a report that touched on the border dispute with Somaliland, according to NUSOJ.