Africa: RSF and NUSOJ Call for Release of a Journalist Held in Somalia’s Puntland Region

At a joint press conference today, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and a partner organization, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), condemned the decline in press freedom in Puntland, a semi-autonomous region in northeastern Somalia, and called for the release of a journalist imprisoned there.

Freelance reporter Kilwe Adan Farah is still being held in the main prison in Garowe, Puntland’s capital, nearly two months after the Puntland police arrested him and Farah Mohamed Khalif, another freelancer known as “Yemen,” on 27 December. According to NUSOJ’s information, they were arrested in connection with the publication of photos of protests against the accelerating inflation in Puntland.

Khalif has since been freed but Kilwe is still detained without being formally charged with any crime. His situation is all the more worrying because he was held incommunicado for the first month without anyone being able to find out what had happened to him. Puntland’s journalists think his detention is meant to send a message to those who might dare to cover demonstrations and protests against the local authorities.

On 22 February, Ahmed Botan Arab, a freelancer was also arrested by the Puntland police in the city of Bossasso after posting video interviews of local residents commenting on a speech about the political situation in Somalia that Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni had given the day before. Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, a Bossasso-based journalist told NUSOJ that the authorities initially threatened Arab in an attempt to dissuade him from posting the interviews on his YouTube channel, and then arrested him after the video sent viral. Accused of “spreading misinformation’, he was eventually released yesterday on 24 February.