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NUSOJ welcomes release of journalist after 86 days in detention

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) welcomes the release of journalist Abdifitah Jama Mire, director of Horseed Media, who was released on 8 November 2010 from jail in Bosasso town in northeastern Somalia, after 86 days in detention. A court in Bosasso sentenced Mire to six years in jail for airing an interview with a militia leader fighting against Somalia's Puntland government.

Mire was arrested on 14 August 2010 after broadcasting a radio interview with Mohamed Said Atom, an Islamist militia leader who claimed he had links with al Shabaab militants. Atom is fighting against the Puntland government in the Galgala mountainous area.

"I thank my Allah who got me out of this jail where I was detained for nearly three months. I also thank all media organisations, locally and internationally who made more efforts so as to get my freedom," said Mire, shortly after he got out of the prison.

NUSOJ is pleased that Mire was released. "We have held his arrest to be baseless and a violation of his human rights. Reporting on a story which is deemed to be critical of the administration is insufficient justification to hold a person captive for 86 days. While welcoming the decision of the Puntland President, we call on power-holders in Puntland to uphold the rule of law and respect journalists' work," said Omar Faruk Osman, the NUSOJ Secretary General.

"With all respect to the Puntland President, we strongly advise Puntland to promote a dialogue with the media which is based on basic norms and values of ethical journalism and free press," he added. NUSOJ believes that Mire apologizing to the administration for his arrest could create a dangerous precedent, encouraging local journalists to self-censor their independent and critical work for fear of suffering a similar fate to his.

The release of Mire came after Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole received increased calls for his release from journalists and free expression advocates worldwide and members of the Puntland parliament who met Farole and asked for the release of the journalist.
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