Somali TV journalist held for reporting suspected police corruption

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of a Somali TV journalist who has been held by the Mogadishu police for more than ten days for reporting an alleged case of corruption involving senior police officers.

Kaab TV editor Mohamed Ibrahim Bulbul, who is also information and human rights secretary at the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), was attending a class at the university on 17 August when four armed plainclothes policemen came and took him away in an unmarked car.

The previous day, Bulbul had reported on the air that senior Somali police officers who had participated in a capacity building training seminar organised and funded by the European Union (EUCAP Somalia) were suspected of misusing funds in connection with the seminar.

After sustaining injuries to the chest and a shoulder while being taken from the university to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Mogadishu, Bulbul was detained for two days in cell with no mattress and without being given enough food and water, and was interrogated without a lawyer being present.

He was taken before a Banaadir regional court judge on 19 August and was transferred to a cell in the CID centre in the Mogadishu suburb of Sheelare on 22 August. Neither his lawyer nor his family has been allowed to visit him since then.

Journalists must be able to investigate and publish information freely, including on governance issues within Somalia’s defence and security forces. The Somali authorities have held Mohamed Ibrahim Bulbul in a completely illegal manner for more than ten days. We demand the immediate release of Kaab TV’s editor and respect for the confidentiality of journalists’ sources. RSF is also concerned about other arrests of journalists in connection with their work in recent weeks.

Sadibou Marong
Director of RSF’s sub-Saharan Africa desk

CID police officers called the SJS on 21 August to get access to Bulbul’s phone and laptop and ask questions about the sources for his recent story. RSF condemns these requests, which have no legal basis and endanger the confidentiality of his sources.

The Somali authorities have yet to announce the official reasons for Bulbul’s arrest and what he is charged with. The SJS general secretary said the head of the Banaadir regional police ordered his arrest without a valid warrant.

The police should investigate the suspected misuse of funds by the police instead of targeting the journalist who reported it,” the head of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) told RSF.

Three other Somali journalists have been arrested in the past two weeks. Channel Five Somali TV reporter Zakariye Mohamed Salad and cameraman Mohamed Dulmi-diid were covering the consequences of the previous day’s Al-Shabaab attacks on 23 August when they were arrested by the Mogadishu police and held for three hours.

Goobjoog TV reporter Abdifatah Yusuf Beereed was arrested in Dhuusamareeb, the capital of the central state of Galmudug, on 15 August while interviewing members of the regional police about their salaries. He was released without any charge after being held overnight.

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