SOMALIA: Puntland President threatens actions against Media owners

Published: September 13, 2010

Abdirahman Farole, president of Somalia's Puntland State

Horseed Media condemns threatening comments made by President of Puntland Abdirahman Farole against the news outlet’s owners, this week.
Farole threatened to take what he called “…the right actions…” against Horseed Media owners, for their critically reporting about the arrest of Director Abdifatah Jama Mire, after Horseed Media cited the government’s crack down on independent media in Puntland.
In a press conference, President Farole was asked about the case of Abdifatah Jama Mire, who was arrested last month by Puntland forces and sentenced to six years in jail for interviewing rebel leader Sheikh Mohamed Said Atam.
International and local media organizations have called on the Puntland administration to respect the freedom of the press and to release the media director.
Mr. Mire’s lawyers have appealed the sentencing and the appeal court judge has announced in the first hearing that the prosecution’s case was not complete. The appeal case is still ongoing, with much pressure from the President’s office which is continuously requesting to postpone the release of the jailed journalist.
“…the reporting of Horseed Media  is unacceptable, we will deal with the owners of the media house, they will get what they deserve, good or bad…in this world and the hereafter…” the president said during his Eid message which was broadcasted in Somali, on Thursday evening.
“…it is quite strange for the President to use his Eid message to threaten the media outlets in his own constituency…” said Mahad Musse head of Horseed Media “…the President’s remark was not the appropriate one for a such a joyful event…”
The President went even further in his speech by saying Abdifatah Jama Mire was not even the director of Horseed Radio in Bosaso, calling him a “”
“… Mr.Mire, I heard, that he is not the director of Horseed radio in Bosaso but that he is among the assistants, he used to come to press conferences with a camera…” the President said.
On another twist in Puntland’s crackdown on the independent media, [Garowe online] the mouthpiece of Puntland administration, went on a rampage calling the independent media in Puntland and Somalia “…Supporters of violent Fanatics…”
Furthermore, Puntland authorities are currently threatening to use the so called anti-terror law against journalists, the contents of this new law have yet to be disclosed to the public.
Last month, Puntland Information Minister Abdihakin Ahmed told journalists at a press conference, that Jama was “lucky” to receive a six-year sentence since the maximum sentence under the new anti-terror law is 20 years. The minister ordered journalists not to interview rebel forces under Sheikh Mohamed Said Atom, and said they would face “severe punishment” if they did.
“…these latest comments and publications from Farole’s camp, is another indication of how far the president and his close aids are personally interfering the affairs of the independent media…”  said Mr. Musse adding “…it was the right moment for the President to show some remorse and release Abdifatah, but he lost once again a golden chance…Farole’s outer disregard for the press freedom in Puntland will eventually harm the creditability of the current administration…”
Horseed Media along with the Media associations of Puntland (MAP), the National Union of Somali Journalists, civil society and human rights groups have called for the release of Mr.Mire.
Hussein Farah
Horseed Media

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