Somaliland detains BBC Media Action staff while Somali police spokesman threatens reporters covering police operations in Mogadishu

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Mogadishu (Onkod Radio) — Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and thme Somali Media Association (SOMA) call for Somaliland authorities to halt the threats and harassment against British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) staff and journalists in Hargeisa; unconditionally release five members of the BBC Media Action team arbitrarily detained in Hargeisa on Saturday and allow BBC to resume operations.

On Saturday Hargeisa police officers raided the office of BBC Media Action, the BBC’s international charity, in Hargeisa and detained five staff members: the head of the BBC Media Action in Hargeisa, Mohamed Gaas, journalist Abdullahi Jama, Samatar Gahnuug, film editor Ahmed Fa’iz and their transport manager Yahye Ali before closing down the office.

There were no immediate explanations from Somaliland authorities regarding the raid of the BBC Media Action office and the detention of its staff. However, Somaliland minister of information, Suleyman Yusuf Ali (Koore) issued a two-page letter addressed to the minister of foreign affairs accusing “the BBC of losing its neutrality in its news and programs on political issues”. The move follows an unlawful decision on Tuesday banning BBC Somali Service from operating in Somaliland.

Separately, SJS and SOMA are concerned about the new instructions issued by the Somali police spokesman Major Abdifatah Adan Hassan threatening legal action against any reporter that covers police operation for reporting what he described as “for reporting anything beyond issues called for that day”. We call for Somali police force to intervene and withdraw the new instruction imposed by its spokesman which is not only illegitimate but also poses a threat to the work of the journalists covering police operations amid increased criminal and terror activities in Mogadishu.

“We condemn the arbitrary detention of the five BBC Media Action staff on Saturday, and the closure of their office in Hargeisa. All of them were doing their job legally and there is no reason to justify the detention of these five media staff who are doing their job legally,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary-General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS). “We call on Somaliland authorities to immediately and unconditionally free all BBC Media Action staff from the police detention. Somaliland must cease its attacks intended to pressure and intimidate BBC journalists.”

“It is appalling that Somaliland authorities have resorted to attack and threaten BBC journalists at a time when the public is desperate for neutral and balanced information amid the disagreement surrounding the delayed presidential election now scheduled for November,” Mohamed Osman Makaran, the Secretary-General of Somali Media Association (SOMA) said “We demand the immediate freedom of all the BBC Media Action staff detained in Hargeisa.”

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