Two journalists working for privately-owned radio stations who were arrested on 24 October, Mohammed Adawe Adam of Radio Shabelle and Muktar Mohammed Atosh of HornAfrik, were freed on 2 November and were able to resume working with any problems, Reporters Without Borders has learned from its partner organisation, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ).
A third journalist who was arrested with them, Fahad Mohammed Abukar of Radio Warsan, was held for only four days. He was released after being questioned by the federal transition government’s security forces.
NUSOJ said Adam and Atosh were given their digital video cameras and mobile phones back, and no charges were brought against them. Their long detention was due to their refusal to answer questions. The security forces had suspected them of spying for the Union of Islamic Courts.
30.10.2006 - One journalist freed, two others arrested in continued harassment by authorities in Baidoa
Reporters Without Borders welcomes the release of journalist Fahad Mohamed Abukar of Radio Warsan, but condemns the arrest of two other journalists from the same radio station, Abdulkadir Barre Moallim and Nur Barre, as well as brutality against freelance journalist Idle Moallim Omar in Bossasso, Puntland.
"The release of Fahad Mohamed Abukar is an inadequate step on the part of the Baidoa authorities since two of his colleagues - Mohammed Adawe Adam and Muktar Mohammed Atosh - are still in custody and two others were arrested,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
“We remind the Somali transitional government as well as the authorities in Puntland that brutality and unfair arrests will only alienate the entire press and tarnish their image”.
Fahad Mohamed Abukar was freed on 28 October 2006, after having his camera, tape-recorder and mobile phone returned to him, Reporters Without Borders learned from its Somali partner organisation, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ).
On the same day, Idle Moallim Omar, who works for the Swedish-hosted website somaliwyen.com was brutally beaten by security guards employed by General Adde Muse, President of the self-proclaimed state of Puntland, at the Panorama Hotel in Bossasso. He was taken to hospital for treatment.
Police arrested Abdulkadir Barre Moallim and Nur Barre the following day on the orders of Haji Mohamud Barbar, governor of the Bay region in the south of the country before being released early evening. The governor had complained to the director of Radio Warsan. Abdifatah Mohammed Ibrahim, after the radio broadcast news relating to the swearing in of a member of the local council of Bay region.
25.10.2006 - Baidoa-based government urged to release three journalists arrested by its troops
Reporters Without Borders today called for the immediate release of three journalists working for privately-owned radio stations who were arrested yesterday near the southern city of Baidoa by militias loyal to the transitional federal government after they filmed evidence of the presence of Ethiopian soldiers on Somali territory.
“These journalists were undesired witnesses of the bloody poker game being played by the belligerents in Somalia,” the press freedom organisation said. “In view of the very worrying situation in which our three colleagues now find themselves, we urge the government to respect the press freedom guarantees contained in the federal transition charter it signed.”
Reporters Without Borders added: “The public has a right to know the realities of the fighting that is taking place in Somalia. President Abdulahi Yusuf Ahmed must therefore order the release of these journalists, as they were just doing their job in an extremely dangerous situation in which news manipulation is one of the weapons being used.”
Fahad Mohammed Abukar of Baidoa-based Warsan Radio, Mohammed Adawe Adam of Mogadishu-based Radio Shabelle and Muktar Mohammed Atosh of Mogadishu-based HornAfrik were arrested yesterday morning in Daynunay, a village 15 km outside Baidoa, where the government has its headquarters. They were coming from Burhakaba, a place about 60 km away where government troops have been fighting militias loyal to the Islamic courts that control Mogadishu. Three people travelling with them were also arrested.
They were taken to Baidoa for interrogation at the headquarters of the criminal investigation police. The Reporters Without Borders partner organisation in Somalia, the National Union of Somali Journalists, said they are now being held in the city’s prison.
The three journalists were caught in possession of a digital video camera containing footage of the body of an Ethiopian soldier of Somali origin killed in Burhakaba, as well as footage of Ethiopian soldiers in Somalia, a local political source told Reporters Without Borders on condition of anonymity.
The transitional government, which is recognised by the international community, has been battling for several months for control of southern Somalia with the Islamic courts, which have proclaimed a jihad against Ethiopia. The Islamic courts, which control Mogadishu and nearly two thirds of the provinces, claim that Ethiopian troops are fighting alongside the government militias. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has acknowledged sending “about a hundred trainers at the most” to Somalia.