Somalia’s second journalist is arrested in Puntland

Ahmed Botan Arab

According to International Federation of Journalists report Freelance journalist Ahmed Botan Arab was arrested on February 21 in Bosaso, in the northeast region of Puntland, accused of “spreading misinformation” after conducting street interviews with citizens criticizing Puntland’s president. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), in condemning the arrest and urges Puntland’s regional government to release him immediately.

According to NUSOJ, Puntland’s police first tried to block the publication of the interviews because the views expressed by the interviewees about Governor Said Abdullahi Deni were too critical.

The interviews were finally released on Arab’s YouTube channel and quickly went viral. He was arrested and is currently being held at Bosasso central police station charged with “spreading misinformation”.

It is the second arbitrary arrest of a journalist in Puntland in the last two months. Independent journalist Kilwe Adan Farah, was detained on 27 December 2020 in Garowe city. Despite there beoing no official charges brought against him he is still in prison.

According to local media, Puntland’s authorities arrested him after he published photos of a demonstration against rising inflation in the region.

NUSOJ Secretary General, Omar Faruk Osman, said: “This outrageous attempt to suppress the truth, victimise an innocent journalist and illegally detain him for doing his job must be strongly rejected. Ahmed Botan Arab is the second journalist currently being detained in Puntland for doing their journalistic work”.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “We are deeply concerned over the deteriorating situation of press freedom in Puntland, where two colleagues are currently in jail for their reporting on public interest issues. We urge the regional authorities to immediately release the two imprisoned journalist and stop the crackdown on press freedom”.