Reporters Without Borders and its partner organisation in Somalia, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) today expressed relief at the release on 15 April of Jama Ayanle Feyte.
The freelance journalist has been pardoned by the president of Puntland, Abdirahman Mohamud Farole, after being sentenced to two years in prison for defamation by a court in Bossaso, in the north of the semi-autonomous region on 30 March.
“This case confirms the urgent need for the Puntland authorities to adopt a law promoting press freedom, since journalists are too often victims of unfair arrest”, Reporters Without Borders said.
31.03.09 - Freelance journalist gets two years in prison in Puntland on defamation charge
A court in Bosaso, the main port city of the semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland, yesterday sentenced freelance journalist Jama Ayanle Feyte to two years in prison, Reporters Without Borders has learned from its partner organisation in Somalia, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ).
Feyte was not defended by a lawyer at the trial, which was held four days after he was arrested in Bosaso. He was accused of defamation and disseminating false information but the authorities did not specify what prompted the charges.
“Feyte is the victim of a flagrant case of summary justice and must be freed without delay,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This conviction was clearly politically motivated as there were absolutely no grounds for the charges. We urge the Puntland authorities to adopt a law that protects press freedom and protects journalists from arbitrary arrest.”
Several local sources said Feyte’s arrest on 26 March was ordered by Puntland interior minister Abdullahi Jama Ilkajir and could have been prompted by political comments Feyte had made about the region’s authorities. Feyte works for several local newspapers and the Dayniile.com et Laasqoray.net websites.