Somalia: Government Raids Popular Radio Station


Voice of America (Washington, DC)

Somali security forces have raided and closed Radio Shabelle, a popular independent broadcasting station located in Mogadishu.

Law enforcement officers entered the building on Saturday. Station owner and director Abdimalik Yusuf Mohamud says some of the 37 staff members were beaten by police before they were arrested and detained.

Police also confiscated computers and other equipment.

Mohamud says the raid was politically motivated. In an interview with VOA’s Somali Service, he said the government wanted to “silence” Radio Shabelle because it had reported on corruption and “other issues that government does not like.”

The Interior Ministry said Radio Shabelle had been ordered to vacate the building because it is housed inside government property. The ministry says it had given the radio station several notices to leave.

The building housing the radio station is located near the airport, a relatively secure region of Somalia. Radio Shabelle had been at the site since 2009.

Radio station officials argued they were lawfully occupying the property. Mohamud said the radio station had a lease agreement with the transportation ministry that did not expire until 2015.

Reporters Without Borders has described the government’s actions against Radio Shabelle as “arbitrary” and “harassment.”

In a Wednesday statement, the rights group said an eviction would endanger the safety of radio station employees.