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Police raid NUSOJ office, briefly detain union leader

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - On the morning of 13 November 2011, secret police raided the offices of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) in Mogadishu without a warrant, and briefly detained a union leader.

Two police officers armed with pistols entered the union offices and arrested Abdiqani Sheik Mohamed, NUSOJ's Organizing Secretary, taking him to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) headquarters.

The Mogadishu police commissioner's office denied issuing the arrest and raid order. The two police officers were immediately arrested and claimed that the Ministry of Labour had given them the orders to raid the union offices and arrest the organizing secretary. The Director General of the Ministry of Labour, however, denied before CID officials that the ministry had issued any such order. NUSOJ expressed surprise over the incident, characterising the actions as "criminal".

"The police raid of our offices and arrest of the union's organizing secretary is, in our view, part of a continuing plan by elements within the Transitional Federal Government to intimidate and terrify the union's leadership, disrupt the work of the union and paralyse its secretariat's work by unsettling union staff," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ's Secretary General.

Journalists, union officials, parliamentarians and civil society activists gathered at the CID headquarters and strongly condemned the raid and the arrest of Abdiqani Sheik Mohamed.

"The arrest and raid is a means by which to silence the national journalists union and suppress the voice of journalists through backroom deals," said Abdirisak Omar Ismail, President of NUSOJ's Supreme Council.

The union demanded an immediate end to the organised and hostile actions carried out by officials against NUSOJ's leadership and a halt to the disruption of its work by the police.

Abdiqani Sheik Mohamed was released after he was illegally detained at the CID headquarter for some 90 hours. He subsequently continued with his work at the union's office.

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