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Somalia: Leading Mogadishu newspaper editor arrested

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 17 October 2016.

Reporters Without Borders condemns newspaper editor Abdi Aden Guuleed's arrest two days ago and calls for his immediate release.

The editor of Xog Ogaal, one of Somalia's leading dailies, Guuleed was arrested during a raid by members of the National Intelligence Service Agency (NISA) on the newspaper's Mogadishu headquarters on the evening of 15 October.

The newspaper's manager said it does not know why Guuleed was arrested. He has been held by the NISA ever since.

The NISA agents seized computers, cameras, archives and other material during the raid, since when no issue of the newspaper has been produced. One of Somalia's most widely read dailies, it has been publishing since the 1991 civil war.

The raid followed the newspaper's publication of photos of a massacre of civilians in El-Ali, in the central region of Hiran, by members of the Islamist rebel group Al-Shabaab. Fighting is currently taking place between Al-Shabaab and government forces in this region.

A source in the security services said it was a senior government official who had ordered Guuleed's arrest.

“We urge the Somali authorities to free Abdi Aden Guuleed without delay,” RSF said. “The security forces cannot keep taking justice into their own hands with complete impunity. If there is a problem with something published, the judicial system should arbitrate. By raiding such an emblematic newspaper, the authorities have crossed a new threshold in their abusive treatment of journalists and media in Somalia.”

Journalists' unions and associations lost no time in condemning the raid and calling on the security forces to respect media freedom.

Media freedom is declining in Somalia, while journalists continue to be the victims of the prevailing impunity. As RSF reported at the time, men on a motorcycle gunned down radio journalist Abdiaziz Mohamed Ali on a Mogadishu street just three weeks ago.

Somalia is ranked 167th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

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