Security agents in the capital, Mogadishu, arrested 19 individuals at the Shabelle Media Network’s offices on August 15, 2014, and removed the transmitters of Radio Shabelle and Sky FM, two stations part of the Shabelle Media Network, according to news reports and local journalists.
All but three of those arrested were released from the Somali National Security Services two days later, news reports said. Abdimalik Yusuf, owner of Shabelle Media Network; Mohamud Mohamed, Sky FM director; and Ahmed Abdi Hassan, host for Radio Shabelle, remained in custody.
Agents arrested Shabelle producer Mohamed Bashir two weeks later, after he publicly condemned the arrests, local journalists told CPJ.
On September 4, 2014, the Attorney General charged the journalists with “attack on the integrity of the unity of the Somali State,” defaming the head of state, incitement, and publishing false information, according to local journalists.
On October 21, a court released Abdimalik and Ahmed on bail, according to news reports.
Abdirahman Omar, a government spokesman, told CPJ the arrests were made after Shabelle Media Network incited the public to violence and urged clans to fight security forces. Shabelle’s broadcasts came at a time when authorities were attempting to disarm a militia in the capital, according to wire reports.
Shabelle journalists reported that the arrests may be connected to the network’s criticism of an interview Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud gave to the U.S. public broadcaster, PBS. In that interview, the president said most independent media companies in Somalia supported the insurgent group Al-Shabaab, news reports said.