JOINT STATEMENT: A cameraman seriously injured during hotel attack, NISA briefly detains radio director in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU, Somalia 18 August, 2020 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and Somali Media Association (SOMA) are very concerned about the health condition of Mohamed Abdi Hussein Araye, a cameraman with the state-owned TV, who was critically injured in a hotel attack in Mogadishu on Sunday, while we strongly condemn the brief detention against Omar Ahmed Hilowle, the director of the privately-owned independent Radio Kaah, following a raid by officers from the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) on the radio premises in Mogadishu on Monday 17 August.

The radio director was held at the notorious Godka Jila’ow detention for more than an hour after armed officers from NISA raided the radio premises on Monday evening 17 August. He was released back without charge, according to the director himself. The reason of the raid is unclear, however journalists at the radio station said the raid follows Radio Kaah’s coverage on Sunday’s Mogadishu hotel attack. Staffers said the radio, which was ordered off-air during the raid, was allowed to resume operations on Tuesday.

“We strongly condemn this blatant act of violation against the freedom of the media. We call for the authorities to respect the rule of law and immediately investigate the egregious acts of targeting media houses and journalists by the security forces,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said.

SJS and SOMA are very concerned by the health condition of Mohamed Abdi Hussein Araye, 36-years-old cameraman with the Somali National TV, who was critically injured during a car bomb and gun attack at Elite Hotel in Mogadishu’s Liido beach on Sunday where he was on assignment. Mr. Araye, who is in hospital due to multiple serious wounds he sustained, remained in a critical condition since Sunday, according to his family.

“We are very concerned by the health situation of cameraman Araye. We appeal for urgent support to him including by seeking an advanced medical attention,” Mohamed Abduwahab Abdullahi, the Secretary General of Somali Media Association (SOMA) said.

Separately, SJS and SOMA condemn the Somaliland’s Ministry of Information decree imposing USD15000 and USD5000 cash fine on Universal TV and Star TV respectively on 10 August. The Minister of Information ordered the closure of both stations late June. Star TV, however resumed its operations last week.

SJS and SOMA call for Somaliland authorities to reverse from its unlawful fines and allow both Universal TV and Star TV to continue their operations without condition.