Reporters Without Borders calls for the release of Mohammed Shidane Daban of privately-owned Radio Banadir, who was arrested by federal government security forces on 4 January at Mogadishu’s Aden Adde international airport, and freelance journalist Idle Moallim, who was arrested on 5 January in Bossasso by the police of the semi-autonomous northeastern region of Puntland.
“It would seem that the New Year has not brought any respite for Somali journalists, who continue to be persecuted, arbitrarily arrested and harassed in what is now Africa’s most dangerous country for the media,” the press freedom organisation said. “We call on the authorities in Mogadishu and Puntland to immediately release these two reporters, who were just doing their work. Keeping them in detention would be incomprehensible.”
The Mogadishu authorities arrested Daban as he was about to board a flight. They also seized all his bags and papers. It is not known where he is being held. The Reporters Without Borders partner organisation in Somalia, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), believes his arrest could be a reaction by the transitional federal government to the continuing exodus of journalists, which reflects badly on the government. According to the NUSOJ, 35 Somali journalists have fled to Kenya since May 2007, 15 have fled to Djibouti, four to Ethiopia and three to Uganda.
Moallim, a freelancer who often works for the news website Somaliaweyn, is being held at police headquarters in the port city of Bossasso. He was arrested for covering the smuggling of illegal migrants from Puntland’s northern coast via nearby Yemen to countries in the Gulf. Puntland’s coast is also used a base for embarking illegal arm shipments.
Mohammed Bashir Hashi of Radio Shabelle was meanwhile wounded in the shoulder and left hand during a shootout between government forces and rebels in the Mogadishu neighbourhood of Wardhigley on 3 January. The NUSOJ said Hashi was interviewing civilians fleeing the shooting when a gunman fired at him.