- Abshir Ali Gabre, news editor at Somalia's independent 'Radio Jawhar', was detained by armed men of the faction leader Mohamed Omar Habeeb, also known as Mohamed Dere. Editor Gabre had just aired a radio report saying that warlord Dere had signed a peace accord he publicly claimed to be against.
Mr Dere is chairman of the self-appointed Jawhar administration, one of the many warlords controlling a territory of war-ravaged Somalia. Last week, the warlord ordered the detention of Mr Gabre, the editor of 'Radio Jawhar' following a critical report. Mr Gabre was held in an overnight detention by the warlord's armed men.
Mr Gabre was arrested at the radio station on 24 February 24 at about 8 p.m. and detained for around 14 hours in connection with a report that he had just broadcast, according to local journalists' organisations. During the broadcasted report, the Somali journalist pointed out that Mr Dere and his allies had signed a 29 January peace agreement in Kenya, even though he had recently stated that he did not support the accord.
Somalia has had no central government since the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in 1991 and is divided between warring faction leaders. Peace talks between the main faction leaders and the weak, Mogadishu-based Transitional National Government have been ongoing for more than a year in Kenya.
In January, all the main faction leaders signed an agreement to create a new national parliament that will in turn elect a Somali president. According to the investigations made by Mr Gabre, also warlord Dere had signed this accord.
Mr Gabre was taken to a police cell and detained overnight. The police station commander told the editor that Mr Dere himself had ordered his arrest, according to the Somali Journalists Network (SOJON). Mr Gabre was questioned repeatedly about why he had read the "offending report".
Following a recent visit to Jawhar, which is about 90 kilometres north of the capital, Mogadishu, SOJON said that journalists there were "censored daily" by Mohamed Dere, with the militia regularly going to 'Radio Jawhar', the only station in the region.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) today joined its Somali colleagues at SOJON in condemning the detention of Mr Gabre. The US organisation, working to safeguard press freedom worldwide, had been in contact with SOJON, which had informed them about the press freedom violations in Jawhar.
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