Three journalists detained by security forces across Somalia

New York, January 7, 2008—Police arrested freelance journalist Idle Moallim on Sunday in the northeastern city of Bossasso in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, local journalists told CPJ. Police arrested Moallim for “misreporting” a story on human trafficking in Bossasso and are holding him at Bossasso central prison, according to local journalists.

Moallim is a contributor to the news Web site Somaliaweyn. It was not immediately clear whether the human trafficking story had been completed or published.

The arrest of Moallim comes two weeks after the arrest of another freelance journalist in Puntland, Awale Jamaa Salad. He was arrested on December 23, 2007, and held without charge after publishing photos of the abducted French journalist Gwen LeGouil, who has since been freed. Jamaa was still in police custody on Monday, according to the news Web site Garowe Online.

Attacks on the press were reported elsewhere in Somalia as well. In Mogadishu, one journalist was arrested and another wounded in recent days.

On January 4, government security forces arrested Radio Banadir journalist Mohammed Shidane Daban at Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport, according to journalists at the Mogadishu-based radio station and the National Union of Somali Journalists.

Daban is believed to be held without charge at the government security headquarters next to the presidential palace, according to local journalists who said Daban’s belongings were confiscated as well. Daban also worked part-time for the information department of the Banadir regional government, headed by Mogadishu Mayor Mohamed “Dheere” Omar Habeeb. No official statement has been made concerning the reason behind Shidane’s arrest.

A day earlier, on January 3, Radio Shabelle reporter Mohammed Bashir Hashi suffered gunshot wounds to the shoulder and left hand while covering an exchange of gunfire between government forces and insurgents in the Wardhigley district of Mogadishu, local journalists said. According to the National Union of Somali Journalists, Bashir was interviewing people fleeing the area when an armed man fired at him.

“The new year has brought no respite for Somali journalists who continue to be detained and harassed in what is Africa’s most dangerous country for the media,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “We call on authorities throughout Somalia to free our three detained colleagues immediately.”

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.