Somali journalists freed from jail

Two Somali journalists set free following their arrest regarding broadcasting debate about presence of foreign forces in Somalia

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

A Somali police officer talks on a mobile phone in Mogadishu-Archive

The Somali authority on late Wednesday has released two journalists who were detained for a week in jail after broadcasting a debate on the existence of foreign forces in the Somali territory.

Abdullahi Hersi, a Universal TV's regional director and producer Awil Dahir Salad were released but the independent London-based broadcaster was still not on air and his Mogadishu office was shut down on Thursday.

Information Minister Mohamed Abdi Heyr told reporters on Thursday, "We are very pleased that the journalists have been released."

However, he also warned journalists "to tell stories wisely while avoiding anything that implicates the nation's stability and unity."

The two journalists said they were happy to be released.

"After six days in jail, we are eventually free and can go back to our lives," said Salad.

"We were shocked that we have been accused of engaging in state destruction and implicating the country's stability."

Somali security forces raided the studio of the journalists on October 2 following the broadcasts of a debate on the function of the foreign forces in Somalia.

Hersi and Salad were held without being taken to court and were not charged with anything, despite a report from the government saying the journalist would be charged.

The Mogadishu government is backed by international joint task forces including 22,000-strong African Union Mission in Somalia, AMISOM, with countries from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. 

AMISOM was fighting the al Qaida-affiliated Shebab militants.

The arrests had being criticised by the United Nations, United States and press freedom organisations.

Somalia is among the most difficult countries for reporters on the matter of covering news, and media watchdog Reporters Without Borders listed it as just eight places off the bottom of a list of 180 countries for press freedom.

TRTWorld and agencies