In Somaliland, two journalists sentenced to three years of jail term each, fined and Newspaper license revoked


The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemns in the strongest terms possible to the harsh sentence handed down to two journalists and newspaper license revoking in the Hargeysa regional Court on Wednesday morning, 25 June, 2014, around 7:00am local time, the latest in a string of violence against the journalists and media institutions in Somalia.

The regional court of Hargeysa sentenced Yusuf Abdi Gabobe, chairman of the Haatuf Media Network was is in custody and Ahmed Ali Igeh, chief editor of the network 3 years each and 50 Million Somaliland Shilings of fine which is equivalent to $8,000 US Dollars. The court also revoked the newspaper licenses, according to Mohamed Boosh, a journalist in Hargeysa

Ahmed Ali Igeh reportedly went into hiding following the court verdict on Wednesday morning, while Somaliland police arrested Yusuf Abdi Gabobe on 14 June, 2014.

According to local journalists in Hargeysa confirmed to NUSOJ that the journalists were not allowed to defend or their families were not notified for the court hearing to attend, making the worst crime against the media freedom and the freedom of expression in Somalia.

The National Union of Somali Journalists calls the verdict, “chilling and threatening” and called the Somaliland authorities to overturn the ruling.

“It is unfair and inhumane verdict against the press freedom in Somaliland,” Mohamed Ibrahim, NUSOJ Secretary General said, “We call upon the Somaliland authorities to quash the verdict and free the journalists and allow the newspapers to resume operations.”

This week has been very terrible to press Freedom not only to Somalia but to world wide journalists as well. On Monday, Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Fahmy, Canadian-Egyptian acting bureau chief, Australian correspondent Peter Greste, and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed were sentenced to seven years in prison on Monday, accusing “fabricating lies” and supporting Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. An additional three years on separate charges were given to Baher Mohamed, which increased his term to 10 years in prison.

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) expressed its support and solidarity to the journalists and joins the international community in its appeals to free the Al Jazeera reporters, calling the verdict “unacceptable.”

On Saturday, an award winning journalist, Yusuf Ahmed Abukar (Yusuf Keynan) was killed in Mogadishu’s Hamarweyn district, when a bomb believed to have been attached to his car exploded around 7:40am.