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Radio station closed, media director arrested in Puntland

UPDATE: RSF calls for Voice of Peace director's “immediate and unconditional” release (RSF, 24 April 2012)

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - March 4, 2012 - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) protests the arrest and detention of a media director after a radio station was shut down in Bossasso, Puntland on Saturday March 3, 2012.

On Saturday, in the late evening, Puntland police arrested Awke Abdullahi Ali, Director of Radio Voice of Peace (Codka Nabadda Radio) in Bossasso, after shutting down the radio station at around 10:30pm the same day, according to Radio Voice of Peace journalists.

“We slam the closure of Radio Voice of Peace in Bossasso, and call upon the Puntland authorities to immediately release Awke Abdullahi Ali and to ensure that Radio Voice of Peace and other stations are permitted to broadcast without fear of closure or retaliation,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary-General.

Puntland officials did not publicly state the motive behind the arrest and subsequent detention of Ali as well as the shutting down of the radio station, but journalists believe that Puntland authorities were angered by the radio station's broadcasting of an interview with Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Mus'ab, spokesperson of Al-Shabaab militias, who are fighting Puntland forces in the Gala-Gala neighbourhood, in the suburbs of Bossasso. The radio station also interviewed the Puntland government spokesperson.

Al-Shabaab militias in the northeastern region, led by Sheik Mohamed Said Atam, are waging a deadly war against Puntland authorities and the people in Bari region. Journalists in Puntland have continued to face threats, harassment or arrests because of their reporting on sensitive issues.
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