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Somali reporter detained, protestors attacked for demanding his release

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) strongly condemns the arrest of a prominent journalist in central Somalia.

On 18 December 2014, security forces in the town of Beledweyne, Hiran region, arrested Osman Adan Areys, a reporter for Somali Channel TV, who is also the secretary of NUSOJ's central branch.

Areys was accused of covering an event in which a youth leader for the Hiran Regional Administration was elected by youth groups. Regional authorities were irked by this news report, which was broadcast on Somali Channel TV. Security forces, acting on the orders of the regional administration, went to Areys' office and took him to the police station, where he is currently detained.

"We denounce the arrest and interrogation of Osman Adan Areys and call for his immediate release," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. "This arrest indicates that journalists continue to be subject to unacceptable pressure from local authorities, even after extremists were driven out."

NUSOJ demands the Hiran administration to come clean about why Osman Adan Areys was arrested and explain their actions. "It is unacceptable to have arbitrary and unexplained actions that are tantamount to intimidation," added Osman.

After Friday prayers, Beledweyne residents demonstrated before the headquarters of the regional administration, demanding the release of Areys. Police fired live bullets to disperse protesters. At least one protester was wounded.

The union warns that media freedom in the Hiran region will suffer if the lawful activities undertaken by journalists such as Areys are tagged as crimes.

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