Nairobi, February 14, 2014—The Committee to Protect Journalists is gravely concerned by reports that two radio directors in the capital, Mogadishu, were arrested and held without charge for two days by Somalia’s National Security Agency.
Somalia authorities detained two radio directors for two days and threatened to kill them if they continued to air news critical of the government upon their release, local journalists told CPJ. On Tuesday evening, National Security agents arrested the directors of two independent radio stations, Mohamed Barre and Ibrahim Mohamed from Radio Danan and Radio Haatuf, respectively, according to news reports and local journalists. They were released from a detention center Thursday night without charge, according to the same sources. Mohamed and Ibrahim were beaten in custody, a colleague who spoke to the journalists told CPJ.
Both journalists went into hiding on their release and could not be reached.
The two were arrested after broadcasting similar reports on Tuesday about a blast by an improvised explosive device that wounded the deputy governor of the Lower Shabelle Region of Somalia, Hassan Gessey, the chairman of the Somali Independent Media House Association, told CPJ. Both stations are members of the organization of 27 media houses in south and central Somalia.
“Authorities in Somalia must stop trying to intimidate the independent press with arbitrary detentions,” said CPJ East Africa Representative Tom Rhodes. “We call on the government to ensure that news outlets are able to report freely and for security personnel deal with journalists in a responsible, professional, and legal manner.”
Plainclothes men suspected to be security agents visited Radio Danan the same evening they released Mohamed in an apparent bid to intimidate the journalists working there, local journalists told CPJ, but did not elaborate. Both stations are still broadcasting, Gessey said.
Government spokesman Abdirahman Omar, reached by email, said he is out of the country and referred questions to the Information Ministry. CPJ’s calls to the information ministry went unanswered.
Authorities have arbitrarily detained at least six journalists across the country since January, according to CPJ research.