Journalist Mohamed Abuuja Freed After Months in Arbitrary Detention

MOGADISHU, Somalia/ Washington D.C, USA, 05 August, 2020 – After long struggle for justice, Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), Somali Media Association (SOMA) and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights welcome today’s verdict by the Somali Military Court’s to release Radio Hiigsi editor, Mohamed Abduwahab Nuur (Abuuja) from the nearly five-months’-long arbitrary detention. The release followed a court hearing on Monday August 3.

During a brief court session on Wednesday, the Judge of the Military Court’s First Degree, Col. Hassan Ali Nur Shute stated that after having listened to the essence of the arguments made by concerned parties, the court did not find Mohamed Abduwahab Abuuja to be guilty of the charges brought against him. The judge ordered for the journalist’s immediate release prompting officials at the Mogadishu Central Prison to free Abuuja from the cell. Representatives from SJS and SOMA accompanied by family members received Abuuja upon his release from prison and the journalist is now reunited with his family.

Officers from the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) detained Abuuja on March 7 for writing critically on security forces. He was officially charged on Monday 03 August, 2020 with national treason, terrorism and murder. However the Military Court dropped all these charges and declared the journalist’s innocence.

On 29 July, SJS, SOMA and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights filed a petition before the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on behalf of Abuuja for the arbitrary nature of his arrest and detention, and the unlawful mistreatment he’d been subjected to while in prison.

Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, secretary general of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said:

“We are glad that finally our colleague Mohamed Abuuja has been freed from detention and has reunited with his family. Journalism is not a crime and Abuuja should not have been arrested in the first place. He has been held in arbitrary detention since March 7 for criticizing the security forces. We call for the authorities to ensure Abuuja’ safety so he can be able to resume his journalism profession with immediate effect.”

Mohamed Abduwahab Abdullahi, secretary general of Somali Media Association (SOMA) said:

“We are glad that justice has been finally served. We thank the court officials for their efforts to ensure that journalist Mohamed Abuuja who has been detained for his journalism gets his freedom. We also thank the defense lawyers jointly secured by SJS and SOMA for their tireless efforts. We demand authorities to respect press freedom and stop intimidations, threats and harassing critical journalists.”

Dahir Mohamed Ali, the lead defense lawyer said:

“I am very excited that our client, journalist Mohamed Abuuja is free from jail. He has been victimized for his journalism. His safety is of a paramount importance now so that he can resume his job as a journalist.”

SJS, SOMA and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights appreciate the solidarity and support from international press freedom and human rights organizations including Amnesty International and Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) during Abuuja’s detention.