Nairobi, March 18, 2021 — In response to yesterday’s decision by a military court in the semi-autonomous Somali state of Puntland sentencing journalist Kilwe Adan Farah to three years in prison, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
“Sentencing journalist Kilwe Adan Farah to three years in prison, with neither his lawyer nor his family present, is the latest in a string of abuses committed against the journalist since intelligence personnel arrested him last year,” said CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa Representative Muthoki Mumo. “The administration of Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni must immediately and unconditionally free Kilwe, and those officials responsible for these malicious judicial proceedings must be held to account.”
In separate statements, the Media Association of Puntland and the Somali Journalists Syndicate, two local press freedom groups, said that Kilwe received his sentence at the Garowe Central Prison, where he has been detained for months, in the presence of a group of military court judges and a prosecutor. Mustafe Mohamed Jama, Kilwe’s lawyer, told CPJ via messaging app that he was not allowed to attend the hearing or any of the proceedings in Kilwe’s case.
Authorities detained Kilwe, who runs the Facebook news page Kilwe Media Inc, on December 27, 2020, and held him incommunicado for two weeks before transferring him to prison, allegedly for committing murder, as CPJ documented at the time. On March 3, a military court sentenced Kilwe to three months in prison, despite finding no evidence to support new anti-state and false news charges leveled against him. He was due to be freed on March 6 to account for time served, but the Puntland attorney general appealed, saying that the charges and the verdict were not aligned, according to a court document reviewed by CPJ.
CPJ could not immediately determine what charges were cited in issuing Kilwe’s three-year sentence.