Broadcast journalist arrested in Somalia for spreading ‘fake news’

Authorities in central Somalia have arrested a radio journalist for spreading ‘false news’, an international media watchdog said.

Mohamed Abdiwali Tohow was detained over a report he filed for the Mogadishu-based Radio Kulmiye, said the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), quoting the station’s director.

Tohow received a telephone call from intelligence personnel in the central Somali state of Galmudug, asking him to appear at a station in the state capital, Dhusamareb, the group added.

When the reporter arrived at the station, intelligence personnel told him that his radio report alleging that al-Shabab fighters were regrouping in parts of Galmudug was “false news,” said Radio Kulmiye director Burhan Dini Farah.

But Tohow is yet to appear in court, according to Ismail Sheikh Khalifa, chairman of advocacy group Human Rights Journalists and CPJ.

“That Mohamed Abdiwali Tohow has not been charged with any crime…days after he was arrested, demonstrates this is little more than an attempt to intimidate and punish the journalist for his reporting,” said CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa Representative Muthoki Mumo.

“Authorities in Galmudug should immediately release him without charge, and allow journalists to work freely, especially when they report on critical issues.”

Galmudug’s information minister Mohamud Aden Osman told CPJ that he was aware of Tohow’s detention and that it was not the first time the journalist had spread “wrong information”.

Media rights groups say Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists.

Earlier this month, Somali radio journalist Abdirisak Saed Osman died of injuries sustained in a knife attack near his home in Galkayo in the central region of Mudug.

In July, Abdirizak Kasim Iman, a cameraman for SBS TV, was shot dead in Mogadishu.

Farah Yussuf is a Digital Reporter with Star FM Kenya. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from Masinde Muliro University.

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