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Journalists' association leader harassed, briefly detained

(NUSOJ/IFEX) – 8 December 2011 – The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) denounces the arrest and brief detention of Hassan Mohamed Yusuf, the current chairman of the Somaliland Journalists Association (SOLJA) and the former editor of the "Hargeisa Star" newspaper.

Yusuf was arrested by police on 7 December around 9:40am inside Hargeisa District Court from Somaliland's Criminal Investigations Department (CID), led by Colonel Dahir Abrar Muse, while he was attending a hearing of the defamation case against him and the "Hargeisa Star" newspaper.

The complainant is Somaliland's Minister for Presidential Affairs Mr Hersi Haji Ali Hassan, who claims that he was "defamed" after the newspaper reportedly published an article last year on the misappropriation of half a million US dollar by the minister. Yusuf denies publishing this article, as he was in Djibouti for medical reasons at the time.

NUSOJ was informed that Somaliland Attorney General Hassan Adan ordered Yusuf's arrest after the association condemned the attorney general's decision to temporarily suspend the registration of new private media houses in Somaliland.

"The continuation of defamation cases against journalists in Somaliland is a major obstacle for freedom of the press. We denounce the arrest and detention of Hassan Mohamed Yusuf," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

Yusuf, who currently works for Radio Hargeisa, was freed after more than two hours of detention at the CID headquarters, according to fellow journalists.

NUSOJ joins SOLJA in demanding an end to the suspension of registration of new private media houses by Somaliland's Attorney General.

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