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January 17, 2019

CPJ demands release of Somali journalist detained 'for spreading false news'

A group of journalists protest over harassment and killing of journalists, 2016. /IVY NJERI
A group of journalists protest over harassment and killing of journalists, 2016. /IVY NJERI

The Committee to Protect Journalists has called for the immediate release of Somali broadcast journalist Mohamed Abdiwali Tohow without charge.

Authorities in the Somali state of Galmudug detained the journalist on September 22.

This followed a report broadcast the previous day for the Mogadishu-based Radio Kulmiye alleging that the militant group al Shabaab was regrouping in parts of the State.

This is according to the station's director, Burhan Dini Farah and Ismail Sheikh Khalifa, chairperson of the advocacy group, Human Rights Journalists.

On the morning of September 22, the journalist received a phone call from intelligence personnel, asking him to appear at a station in the state capital, Dhusamareeb.

The intelligence personnel told Mohamed that his report alleging that the militant group Al-Shabaab was regrouping in parts of the state was "false news,".

Read: CPJ warns MPs against threatening journalists over corruption reports

The journalist had not been charged by Tuesday.

"That Abdiwali Tohow has not been charged with any crime, four days after he was arrested, demonstrates this is little more than an attempt to intimidate and punish the journalist for his reporting," CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa representative Muthoki Mumo said. 

"Authorities in Galmudug should immediately release him without charge, and allow journalists to work freely, especially when they report on critical issues."

Mohamed contributes to several stations, including the London-based broadcaster Universal TV.

Abdullahi Kulmiye Hirsi, the broadcaster's East Africa director, told CPJ that authorities in Galmudug said that they would produce the journalist in court today.

Burhan told CPJ that Galmudug's minister of information, Mohamud Aden Osman,stated that on September 25 the journalist would be released once investigations were completed.

The minister told CPJ that he was aware of the journalist's arrest and that it was not the first time the reporter had spread "wrong information".

The minister said he was in discussions and that he hoped Mohamed would be released soon, but did not specify further details.

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