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Somalia4 October 2004

Editor of independent daily in Somaliland acquitted

A court in Hargeisa announced yesterday there was insufficient evidence to support the Somaliland state prosecutor’s accusations against Hassan Said Yusuf, the editor of the independent newspaper Jamhuuriya. Somaliland is a breakaway state in northwestern Somalia.

09.03.04 Editor of independent daily in Somaliland arrested for 15th time Reporters Without Borders called today for the immediate release of the editor of the independent daily paper Jamhuuriya, Hassan Said Yusuf, who was arrested on 1 September for the 15th time in the past decade in Hargeisa, capital of the self-styled state of Somaliland.

It called on the government to explain his detention by a dozen police who burst into the paper’s offices late at night with an arrest warrant as he and his staff were preparing the next day’s edition of the paper and took him to the city’s main police station.

"This arrest, the latest in a long campaign of legal harassment against Yusuf, shows that vigilance is required even though no major infringement of press freedom has occurred recently in Somaliland," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

The city’s police chief said he was arrested because he had several times refused to obey a summons for questioning by the prosecutor-general. He said the arrest was legal and that he would be brought before a court. The paper’s staff were prevented from visiting him and could not contact the prosecutor-general, who was not in his office.

It was the 15th police action against Yusuf since he became editor more than a decade ago. He was arrested in the street in Hargeisa for similar reasons in November 2003 and released on bail a few hours later.

Independent sources in the Somali capital of Mogadishu said he has been picked up because the paper reported on 30 August that Somalia and the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) were annoyed at Somaliland’s refusal to take part in a regional reconciliation conference.

Somaliland, which is in northwestern Somalia, declared itself independent in 1991 but has never won international recognition.

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