MOGADISHU, Somalia, 21 October, 2019 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) calls for Puntland authorities to drop charges against former Radio Daljir director, Ahmed Sheikh Mohamed (also known as Tall Man) who appeared at Nugal Regional Court on Monday 21 October, 2019.
Mr. Tall Man was arrested on Thursday 17 October from his home in Garowe with the orders of Puntland police chief, General Muhidin Ahmed Muse and was held at the police station.
According to human rights lawyer, Mustafe Mohamed Jama, the prosecutors brought charges of incitement and public order disturbance against Mr. Tall Man over Radio Daljir’s reports in September of a prisoner allegedly died in the police custody following torture. Mr. Tallman was then director of the Radio Daljir.
“The defending lawyers requested additional time to review and prepare their response to the charges brought against Ahmed Sheikh Mohamed (Tall man). The next hearing will resume two days later,” lawyer Mustafe told SJS.
Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) calls authorities in Puntland to immediately drop the criminal charges against Ahmed Sheikh Mohamed (Tall man) and grant his freedom. SJS has learnt that the charges brought against the former radio director were heavily influenced by the police chief who previously ordered his soldiers to raid Radio Daljir in mid September.
“Media practitioners should be able to investigate and report police wrongdoings without fear of reprisals,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said. “Instead of genuinely investigating allegations of police brutality, it is unfortunate that authorities in Puntland are responding by seeking to suppress journalism through criminal litigation. This has now become the weapon of choice against truth tellers as Journalism is not a crime.”
SJS stands in solidarity with our colleague, the former Radio Daljir director Ahmed Sheikh Mohamed (Tall man).
Attacks on the free press have recently worsened in Puntland. On 15 October, Police raided privately-owned RTN TV offices in Garowe and threatened journalists. On 14 and 15 September, armed police raided and briefly closed down Radio Daljir in Bosaso. Furthermore, the region’s Information Minister imposed restrictive measures against independent journalists in Puntland.