Somalia’s Puntland authorities detain journalist over critical interview

Mogadishu, 14 July 2019: Police in Somalia’s Puntland state have arrested a freelance journalist after he conducted an interview with a traditional elder that was deemed critical to the state government.

The journalist, Mohamed Said Yusuf, was arrested by Puntland police in Garowe on Saturday evening (13th July).

The journalist had received a call from Nugal Police Commissioner, Colonel Abdihamid Mohamed Dirir, who asked him to appear at the police station in person for questioning over an interview the journalist conducted a day earlier with a local elder.

Upon arrival, he was arrested at the Garowe Central Police Station. No charges have been levelled against him and he remains in detention.

The Somali Journalists Syndicate has condemned the journalist’s arrest and called on Puntland authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him.

SJS Vice-President Omar Said Mohamed visited the journalist on Sunday at the police station where he was allowed to see and chat with him for about 20 minutes.

“We condemn the arbitrary arrest of freelance journalist Mohamed Said Yusuf and demand his unconditional release,” The SJS vice-president said.

“It is against all the country’s laws, including the Constitution of Puntland Sate of Somalia, the Federal Constitution and the Media Law of Puntland, to arrest a journalist for only doing his journalistic work,” he added.

When contacted by the SJS over the arrest, Nugal Police Commissioner Colonel Abdihamid Mohamed Dirir said: “We (the police) were ordered to arrest the journalist by the Puntland government and we will keep him in detention.”

The journalist’s arrest is the latest in a string of harassment and violence against the press in Somalia.

On 12 July, prominent journalists Hodan Nalayeh, founder of Integration TV and Mohamed Omar Sahal (aka Ga’ma Dhere), SBC TV correspondent in Kismayo, were killed when Al-Shabaab militants stormed Hotel Asasey in the southern city of Kismayo.