Reporters Without Borders condemns the apparent complicity between the Ethiopian authorities and those in Somalia’s semi-autonomous northeastern region of Puntland in arresting journalists and gagging the media.

Two Swedish journalists were arrested after crossing from Puntland into Ethiopia’s troubled Ogaden region and covering rebel activity there, while Somali journalist Faysal Mohamed Hassan, who was originally from the Ogaden, is now facing possible extradition to Ethiopia after being sentenced to a year in prison in Bossasso, Puntland’s commercial capital.
“We deplore the sentence imposed on Hassan and we are shocked to learn that the Puntland authorities are envisaging his extradition simply because of his ethnic origin, ignoring the fact that he is a Somali journalist who works in Somalia. They are just trying to get rid of him by sending him to a region where he is liable to be persecuted.”

As regards the two Swedish journalists, Reporters Without Borders added: “The authorities in Addis Ababa must clarify the circumstances of their arrest and provide information about their current status. We must insist that journalists cannot be treated as rebels just because they were covering rebel activity.”
“We urge the Ethiopian government to guarantee access to the Ogaden for journalists and human rights activists. The news blackout that has been imposed on what is taking place in this region is outrageous. It forces journalists to enter the region illegally and just fuels suspicion that terrible human rights violations are taking place there.”

Hassan, who reports for the Hiiran Online news website, was given the one-year jail sentence on 2 July after being convicted on charges of endangering Puntland’s security and reporting false information under articles 215 and 219 of the Somali criminal code for writing about the murder of two alleged members of the Puntland security forces in Bossasso.
His defence lawyer accused Judge Sheik Aden Aw Ahmed of convicting Hassan although Bari district court prosecutor Bashir Mohamed Osman failed to produce any real evidence against him. The authorities clearly have it in for Hassan, who is now being held in the main Bossasso prison, because they are considering his extradition to Ethiopia solely because he comes from an Ogaden ethnic group. More information about Hassan.

Reporters Without Borders is concerned about the safety of Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson, the two Swedish journalists working for the Kontinent photo agency who were arrested by the Ethiopian authorities after crossing into the Ogaden illegally to investigate reports of human rights violations.
Shortly before their arrest, they sustained injuries in a clash between Ethiopian government forces and armed rebels of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), in which 15 rebels were killed. The two journalists are now being held in Jijiga. The ONLF claims that the Puntland authorities spotted them at Galkayo airport and followed them to the Ethiopian border in order to facilitate their arrest by the Ethiopian authorities.

Anna Roxvall, a Swedish journalist who is friend of the two detained journalists, said they entered the Ogaden to investigate reports of atrocities by the Ethiopian armed forces against the local population. “They are in a conflict zone that is actually closed to journalists, but they entered through Somalia,” she said. “They are in a very risky area.”



1 Comment

  1. wiiljwxo says:

    freedom for the two swedish journalists, and olso mr Hassan in hiiraan online !


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