Somali journalist held without charge

New York, December 27, 2007— A reporter who took photographs of French journalist Gwen LeGouil in custody with his kidnappers in Somalia’s semi-autonomous northeastern region of Puntland has been detained since Sunday without charge, local journalists told CPJ.

Awale Jama Salad, a freelance journalist based in the port city of Bossasso, exclusively met with LeGouil and his kidnappers last week. Reuters then interviewed him about the journalist’s condition, and he released his photographs, which showed the masked kidnappers, to local and international media. LeGouil, who works for Franco-German TV network Arte Television, was released on Monday.

Several of Salad’s colleagues interviewed by CPJ said the journalist shared the same clan with the kidnappers, but denied he was involved in the scheme. Sources close to the police say Salad has been detained for “security reasons,” and that the police would not elaborate further.

“The Puntland authorities should either charge Awale Jama Salad or release him immediately,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said.

Salad’s arraignment was postponed yesterday in response to the abduction of two foreign workers of the international medical charity Médecins sans Frontières in the second kidnapping in Puntland in 10 days, according to local journalists and news reports.

Puntland’s authorities have forcefully guarded the breakaway territory’s relative stability in recent months in response to local pro-Islamist militancy, influxes of displaced populations from war-torn southern Somalia and transiting migrants headed to Yemen.