Nairobi, August 23, 2023—The Committee to Protect Journalists on Wednesday called on Somali authorities to unconditionally release journalist Mohamed Ibrahim Osman Bulbul and stop intimidating media covering the security sector.
On August 17, four plain-clothed security personnel arrested Mohamed, a reporter with the privately owned broadcaster Kaab TV, at Mogadishu University, where he studies part-time, according to a statement by the Somali Journalists Syndicate, a local press freedom group, where Mohamed also works as the secretary of information and human rights.
The men, who did not identify themselves or have an arrest warrant, punched Mohamed in the chest, hit him on the shoulder with the butt of a pistol, and forced him into an unmarked vehicle, according to Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, secretary general of the SJS, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.
On Wednesday, SJS said on X, formerly Twitter, that Mohamed was being held at the Hamar Jajab police station in the capital, Mogadishu, and had not been granted access to a lawyer or his family.
Separately, on August 15, police in Dhusamareeb, the capital of central Galmudug state, arrested Goobjoog TV reporter Abdifatah Yusuf Beereed while he was interviewing regional police officers about their salaries, according to the Federation of Somali Journalists, a local press rights group, and Abdifatah, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.
Abdifatah said he was detained overnight before being released without charge, with a warning to avoid such reporting in future. Abdifatah told CPJ that the police returned his camera on August 17, but forced him to delete his video interviews.
“Somali authorities must allow journalists to report on the activities of the police; such journalism is matter of public interest that should be encouraged, not censored,” said CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, Muthoki Mumo. “Authorities should unconditionally release journalist Mohamed Ibrahim Osman Bulbul and ensure that journalists can report on the security sector without fear of retaliation.”
During his detention, officers with the police Criminal Investigation Department questioned Mohamed about the sources for his August 16 report on Kaab TV, which alleged the embezzlement of European Union funds for training Somali police officers, Abdalle told CPJ.
On August 19, a court approved a police request to hold Mohamed for seven days without charge, pending investigation, according to Abdalle and Kaab TV. Abdalle said the police described Mohamed’s reporting as defamatory and accused him of spreading false information about corruption within the force.
CPJ’s emailed requests for comment to the Galmudug Ministry of Internal Security and the office of the Galmudug regional president, sent text messages to CID head Abdifatah Ali Hersi, sent and a direct message on X to the Somali Police Force, but did not receive any replies.