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Somalia27 May 2002

Privately-owned radio and TV station shut down

Reporters Without Borders protested today against the shutting down of the privately-owned Somali Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) by the authorities of the Somali region of Puntland and called for the measure to be reversed at once.

"This is a serious blow to media diversity in the region and is not the first time press freedom has been threatened in Puntland, where three journalists were arrested last year," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to Puntland President Col. Abdullahi Yusuf. He called on him to see that journalists could work freely and safely in the region.

SBC chief Ali Abdi Aware announced on 23 May that the station was going off the air, having received word from the authorities cancelling its broadcasting licence and telling him to close the station. An aide of the president said the station had a commercial licence that did not allow it to broadcast political material.

Local observers said SBC had been penalised because it had criticised Col. Yusuf and reported regularly on the activities of the party led by Jama Ali Jama, a former president of Puntland and political opponent of Col. Yusuf.

Puntland is in northeastern Somalia and has had an autonomous government since 1998.



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