Mogadishu radio correspondent held in Puntland

New York, December 4, 2006—Authorities in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland in northeast Somalia have arrested a correspondent for a private radio station in the Islamist-controlled capital Mogadishu, according to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and local journalists.

Puntland supports the weak, U.N.-backed interim government which is in conflict with the Islamists controlling much of southern Somalia.

Abdi Aziz Guled was detained in the northeastern Puntland city of Bossasso on December 1. He is a correspondent for Radio Simba in Mogadishu and for Voice of Peace Radio in the Puntland city of Galkayo. He is being held without charge or explanation. Local journalists linked his arrest to his reporting of Puntland news for a radio station in Mogadishu. Local media in Bossasso have stopped broadcasting news of southern Somalia for fear of government reprisal. Puntland authorities have threatened tough action against anyone suspected of supporting the Islamists.

“Abdi Aziz Guled is a victim of the conflict between Puntland and the Islamists; he is being scapegoated merely for doing his job,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “We urge Puntland’s authorities to ensure his immediate release.”

Journalists have been caught in the military standoff between the Islamists, backed by neighboring Eritrea, and the transitional government, backed by Ethiopia. On December 3, Massimo Alberizzi, a journalist of Italy’s Corriere della Serra newspaper, was arrested by Islamist militants in Mogadishu and questioned for over an hour over his reports about the support neighboring Eritrea gave to the Islamists, according to international reports and local journalists. Alberizzi left Somalia today, fearing for his security.