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Somaliland journalist injured during arrest, jailed without charge

By Committee to Protect Journalists

Nairobi, May 17, 2019 -- Authorities in the breakaway state of Somaliland should immediately release television reporter Abdirahman Keyse Mohamed, also known as Tungub, and investigate the police officer who fired a shot that injured the journalist during his arrest, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On May 13, in the town of Las Anod, in Somaliland's Sool region, police arrested Abdirahman, a reporter with the privately owned broadcaster Bulsho TV, over interviews he conducted with members of the public about the recent arrest of a member of parliament, according to a staffer at the Somaliland-based nongovernmental organization Human Rights Centre and Yahye Mohamed, the executive director of the Somaliland Journalists Association, a local trade organization, both of whom spoke to CPJ.

During his arrest, Abdirahman was injured when a police officer fired his gun at the ground and debris hit the journalist in the leg, according to Yahye and the Human Rights Centre representative, who asked not to be named so as to speak for the organization as a whole.

The journalist is in prison pending an investigation into police allegations that he was making anti-national propaganda, spreading false news, and that he disobeyed a police order not to record interviews, according to the Human Rights Centre, which said no formal charges have been filed against him.

"Police injured a journalist in the course of arresting him and now hold him without charge, and his alleged crime is giving voice to diverse political opinions," said CPJ's Sub-Saharan Africa representative, Muthoki Mumo. "We call on authorities to immediately release Abdirahman Keyse Mohamed, investigate how he was injured, and make sure those responsible are held accountable."

Police took the journalist to a local hospital following his arrest, where his leg was treated before he was transferred back to detention at the police station in Las Anod, according to Yahye and Hargeisa-based journalist Abdikarim Saed Salah, who spoke with CPJ.

On May 15, following a request from local authorities, a Las Anod court ordered Abdirahman to be held for seven more days without charge, according to the Human Rights Centre. Yahye told CPJ that the journalist has been transferred to a prison in Las Anod.

Last week, security personnel arrested Mohamed Ahmed Dhakool, a member of the Somaliland Parliament, after he held a press conference questioning the sovereignty of the breakaway state, according to news reports .

CPJ's calls and text messages today to Sool Governor Abdiqani Mohamud Jiidhe and Somaliland Police Commissioner Abdillahi Fadal Iman went unanswered. Two calls to Deputy Police Commissioner Abdirahman Libaan Fohle also went unanswered.

Abdirahman was previously arrested and detained without charge for three days in June 2018, as CPJ reported at the time.