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Editor arrested over human rights reporting in Somaliland

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemns the arrest of an editor of a privately-owned newspaper in Hargeisa, Somaliland.

Mohamud Abdi Jama, aka Huuto, the editor-in-chief of Waaheen newspaper, was arrested on 13 December 2012 at the Central Investigations Department (CID) after he responded to a summons.

Jama was detained after officials from the Somaliland presidency reportedly brought an arrest warrant issued by the Hargeisa Regional Court to the CID headquarters. He was informed by CID commander Mohamed Muse Abraar that he was under arrest.

The CID has said Jama was accused of reporting on an unsubstantiated allegation made at a press conference held by human rights defenders regarding human rights violations in Somaliland. The CID further stated that Waaheen newspaper specifically cited in its human rights report that the Somaliland president's son in-law is collecting hundreds of thousands of US dollars from Somaliland Television, a television network controlled and managed by the Somaliland government.

Officers at the CID informed Jama that he has to provide evidence of the allegations against the Somaliland president's son in-law. NUSOJ was, however, informed that the allegations were made by the chair of the Somaliland Human Rights Network, Suleyman Huquq.

Jama was scheduled to appear before a Hargeisa regional court to face charges of publishing unsubstantiated allegations.

NUSOJ fears that the problems with publishing and distributing newspapers, arrests of journalists and defamation legal actions against editors are part of a calculated campaign to silence the print media in Somaliland.

"We are concerned about the arrest of Mohamud Abdi Jama and call on the authorities to release him immediately and put an end to the harassment of journalists" said Abdirisak Omar Ismail, NUSOJ's Supreme Council president, who was visiting Hargeisa.

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