Security forces arrest two Somaliweyn Radio staff

New York, January 14, 2008—National security agents for the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia arrested two journalists for the independent, Mogadishu-based Somaliweyn Radio on Sunday.

According to Somaliweyn Radio sources, security agents seized reporter Bashir Mohammed Abdulkadir at the station and took him to National Security Agency headquarters for questioning. Local journalists said the arrests may be connected to a reporting trip Abdulkadir was said to have made to Eritrea, although no official reason was disclosed. The Transitional Federal Government is in alliance with Ethiopia and accuses Eritrea of supporting the insurgent forces.

After waiting several hours for his staffer to be released, Somaliweyn Radio Director Abdirahman Mohamed Hudeyfi telephoned the officer in charge of the case and was told to come to the security office himself, according to station sources. After meeting the security officer, Hudeyfi was detained without charge, local journalists said.   

“These arbitrary arrests of journalists by security agents who often work autonomously from the government must stop,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “CPJ calls the Transitional Federal Government to release Hudeyfi and Abdulkadir immediately and end the growing trend of harassment and detentions of Somali journalists.”  

Somaliweyn Radio contributor Idle Moalim was released from the central prison in the northeastern port town of Bossasso in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland on Saturday, after spending a week in detention. Moalim was arrested while trying to cover human trafficking in Bossasso. Radio Banadir journalist Mohammed Shidane Daban remained in the same prison today; he has been held since January 4, when security forces arrested him at Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport. No official reason was given for Daban’s arrest.

Seven Somali journalists were killed in the line of duty in 2007, the world’s second-highest death toll behind Iraq. More than 50 others have fled Mogadishu, according to CPJ research.