(NUSOJ/IFEX) - 30 November 2011 - The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) authorities should immediately stop intimidating journalist leaders and allow them to work freely, said the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) after its officials were barred from traveling, questioned and harassed.
On Tuesday, 29 November, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) summoned NUSOJ's Organizing Secretary, Abdiqani Sheik Mohamed, to their offices in Mogadishu for the second time in a month.
The interrogating officer demanded that Mohamed and Senior Vice President of NUSOJ Supreme Council Abdi Aden Guled, who accompanied him, produce the union's registration papers showing they were operating legally, saying that the CID was carrying out a "criminal investigation" concerning the union. "After the investigation, we will decide if we should charge you with a criminal offense," the officer told the men. Guled is also the editor-in-chief of "Xog-Ogaal" newspaper.
The union leaders were asked about a press release the union issued on 13 November detailing a raid on the union's offices and Mohamed's brief detention at CID headquarters on the same day. The interrogating officer, who asked both Guled and Mohamed about the internal management and finances of the union, asked a series of questions regarding the work of the Secretary General and the President of the Supreme Council of the union. The officer told Guled and Mohamed that the CID had ordered immigration at Mogadishu airport to bar them from traveling until criminal investigations were concluded.
"These acts are clearly intended to obstruct NUSOJ's activities, and intimidate its leadership," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. "Such measures against journalist leaders, and an organization that engages in a legitimate activity, contradicts the TFG's claims that they respect press freedom, freedom of association and freedom of expression."
Other NUSOJ leaders along with several MPs and civil society members camped out at the CID offices demanding to know why the union officials had been summoned and interrogated. Mohamed said the interrogating officer asked him more than 300 questions regarding NUSOJ, its officers and their activities.
"The TFG authorities should stop harassing our leaders and allow our union to continue its activities without obstruction - including traveling outside Somalia for legitimate reasons," added Osman. "Unless there is trustworthy evidence that NUSOJ and its leaders have participated in criminal activities, the CID and its police officers should end these arbitrary detentions and interrogations."
On the morning of 13 November, secret police raided NUSOJ offices in Mogadishu without a warrant and briefly detained the same official, Mohamed. Two police officers armed with pistols entered the union offices and arrested Mohamed and took him to CID headquarters, where he was detained for some 90 hours before being released.