Second Journalist Unjustly Thrown into Intelligence Cell as Somaliland Intensifies Press Freedom Crackdown

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The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) received with utmost dismay the arrest of journalist Abdirashid Abdiwahab Hussein, a reporter and newscaster for the privately owned television network Universal TV, by Somaliland intelligence services, as this alarming wave of repression represents yet another grave and audacious assault on press freedom in Hargeisa.

The motive behind Abdirashid Abdiwahab Hussein's arrest remains shrouded in secrecy, as the intelligence services have not provided any reasons for his apprehension, consistent with their past behaviour. However, it is widely believed by local journalists that his arrest is directly related to his courageous coverage of the case of journalist Mohamed Abdi Sheikh. Journalists in Somaliland openly protested yesterday against the unjust military trial of Mohamed Abdi Sheikh, and Abdirashid Abdiwahab Hussein was among the vocal journalists who publicly expressed their concerns and subsequently reported on the matter.

It is deeply troubling that there was no court warrant for the journalist's arrest, mirroring the circumstances of the three journalists arrested on 6 January. Instead, plainclothes officers seized him and forcibly transported him to the headquarters of the secret services. This flagrant disregard for due process underscores the absolute arbitrariness of the ongoing campaign mounted by intelligence services against journalists. These actions appear to be politically sanctioned by the leadership of Somaliland authorities, further eroding the fragile state of press freedom in the region.

NUSOJ Secretary General, Omar Faruk Osman, declared, “These rogue intelligence officers, who do not adhere to the law, are relentlessly targeting journalists. The arbitrary arrest of Abdirashid Abdiwahab Hussein serves as a stark reminder of the deteriorating state of press freedom in Somaliland, as this incident marks the second instance of a journalist being unlawfully detained in Hargeisa, following the harrowing arrest, illegal detention and yesterday’s frightening military trial of Mohamed Abdi Sheikh. It is abundantly clear that the Somaliland administration is determined to resort to extreme measures in order to suppress independent journalism and silence dissenting voices.”

“Intelligence agents have no business pursuing journalists in this manner. We unequivocally call for the immediate and unconditional release of Abdirashid Abdiwahab Hussein, who was apprehended for bravely speaking out and covering the unjust treatment of his fellow journalist,” added Osman.

The worrying escalation of repression against journalists in Somaliland is of grave concern, and NUSOJ is closely coordinating with journalists in Hargeisa to address this troubling campaign aimed at intimidating and diverting them from their independent reporting.

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