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Somalia22 June 2005

Weekly Shacab again targeted by Puntland authorities

Reporters Without Borders voiced disbelief at the obduracy of the authorities in Somalia’s autonomous Puntland region in the north-east after the arrest of the editor of a privately-owned weekly, which was suspended on 5 May 2005.

The worldwide press freedom organisation urged President Abdullalhi Yusuf Ahmed to quickly order the release of Abdi Farah Nur, editor of Shacab, arrested by police in the evening of 19 June 2005 and imprisoned in the capital Garowe’s jail.

On the morning of the same day, local sources in Galkayo, in the west of the country, said that Farah Nur had been threatened several times at a ceremony opening the 14th session of parliament. Finance Minister, Mohamed Ali Yusuf, had stopped the editor to tell him that Shacab’s print-works was to be nationalised and he would be jailed for five years.

Shortly afterwards as Farah Nur was taking photos of the ceremony police escorted him to the police station. Once there, officers told him that they had information suggesting that Shacab, temporarily banned under a 5 May presidential decree, was going to reappear. They then asked him to sign a statement undertaking not to reopen the newspaper, which he refused to do. Finally released, he returned to his offices and brought out the paper.

Late in the evening, two officers sent by Garowe police chief Colonel Abdi Gaani, turned up at Shacab’s offices, occupied the premises and took the editor to the police station in Garowe. At the same time two employees of a printers owned by the same company as Shacab were also arrested on 19 June then released overnight.

"When Shacab was temporarily suspended we appealed to the Somali president and former president of the autonomous Puntland region, Abdullalhi Yusuf Ahmed", said Reporters Without Borders. "To our great regret our appeal was not listened to and the harassment of the newspaper has continued."

"If he wants to prove that Somalia is a country in which press freedom is respected, President Yusuf should very quickly order the release of the editor of Shacab and lift the ban on the weekly. If the region he presided over were to become a legal no-go area for journalists, the credibility of the transitional institutions would be seriously damaged."

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