The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is demanding the “immediate release” of an editor who was arrested in Somaliland after he handed himself over to authorities so that they could release a jailed journalist from his publication.
“Somaliland authorities should immediately release Ibrahim Osman Ahmed, editor of Hangool News, who has been held without charge since April 15,” the CPJ said on Friday in a statement attributed to its Africa Program Coordinator, Angela Quintal.
The CPJ said it was told by Guleid Ahmed Jama, chairperson of the Human Rights Center in Somaliland, that Ibrahim Osman Ahmed is in custody in Hargeisa Central Police Station after handing himself over to police to secure the release of Abdirahman Arab Da’ud, also from Hangool News.
“The journalists’ detentions are linked to Hangool News reports critical of Somaliland police commissioner. Abdillahi Fadal Iman, and conditions in Hargeisa Central Police Station, Yahye Mohamed, executive director of the Somaliland Union of Journalists,” said the CPJ.
Guleid told CPJ that Ibrahim Osman Ahmed handed himself in after police said they would release Abdirahman, who was detained April 11, in exchange for his arrest.
“Somaliland authorities should immediately release Ibrahim Osman Ahmed and end its harassment of Hangool News staff,” said the CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal from South Africa.
“News agencies must be permitted to report without fear of detention or other forms of reprisal.
“Authorities have not charged Ibrahim [Osman Ahmed] and he has not appeared in court, Abdirahman told the CPJ in an email. During the five days that Abdirahman was imprisoned, the journalist was not charged and did not have a court appearance.”
The CPJ said it is illegal to hold a person without charge for more than 48 hours after their arrest, according to the Somaliland constitution.
“Fortunately, I got my freedom, but they exchanged me [for] Ibrahim Osman [Ahmed] and we don’t know when they will take [him] to the court, and that is the reason we are worrying,” Abdirahman said.
The CPJ said in recent months it has documented the arrest and detention of multiple journalists in the breakaway territory of Somalia, often in connection with views perceived by authorities as favoring reunification.