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Cablegate: Somalia - Harassment of Two Media Outlets

VZCZCXRO3170
PP RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHNR #2690 3361628
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 011628Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7775
INFO RUCNSOM/SOMALIA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC 3111
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL

UNCLAS NAIROBI 002690

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/E AND A/S FRAZER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KPAO PREL PGOV SO
SUBJECT: SOMALIA - Harassment of Two Media Outlets

-------
Summary
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1. (SBU) The week of November 24 witnessed two incidents of apparent
media harassment in Somalia. Early in the week, the Director of
Warsan Radio was arrested by Transitional Federal Government (TFG)
forces for "giving out misleading information about the TFG." The
charges appear to stem from coverage of the execution of a person
accused of murdering a TFG official. Later in the week, journalists
from Universal TV were arrested by TFG police in Mogadishu,
reportedly for having broadcast unfavorable coverage of the security
situation there. Post is investigating both incidents and has
registered concern with TFG leadership. End summary.

-----------------
Arrests in Baidoa
-----------------

2. (SBU) On November 25, the director of Warsan Radio, Hilal Sheik
Shuayb, was arrested by TFG forces in Baidoa on charges of
broadcasting misleading information about the TFG. The station was
said to have carried a live report on November 25 regarding a TFG
military court's execution of a man accused of taking part in the
recent killing of the most senior TFG military commander in Baidoa.
Our contacts indicate the TFG authorities in Baidoa did not approve
of the station's broadcast of a report that the suspect was executed
immediately following a military court ruling. Shuayb was held
overnight. The station was not shut down in conjunction with this
arrest.

3. (SBU) After Shuayb's release the following day, Hindia Haji
Mohamed of Warsan Radio and Muktar Mohamed Atosh of Radio Jubba (and
who also reportedly works for VOA in some capacity, likely as a
stringer) were arrested by TFG police. The police reportedly
arrested the two on charges that they "did not use correct wording"
while reporting on the same execution case. Sources tell us the
journalists avoided the word "murderer" to describe the executed
person, which the TFG police reportedly interpreted as using "soft
language" in reporting on the killing of the senior TFG official.

--------------------------------
Harassment of Universal TV Staff
--------------------------------

4. (SBU) Late in the same week, a group of local reporters for the
London-based Universal TV was arrested in Mogadishu. A contact at
Shabelle Media, which reported on the incident, told us the arrest
was carried out by a former militia group-turned police force who
are known for arbitrary arrests with no clear instruction from their
seniors. The journalists were held briefly at Mogadishu's Wadajir
District station and had their equipment confiscated, but were later
released after intervention by the District Officer, Ahmed Dai. The
police officers accused the journalists of bias in their reporting
of the current situation in Mogadishu. The Shabelle contact said
this kind of complaint is not unusual as many news reports are bound
to be objectionable to either the TFG or the opposition.

------------
Post Actions
------------

5. (SBU) As has been our practice in cases like these, we have
contacted the stations and, where possible, the reporters involved
in the cases. In addition, we have contacted the TFG's Minister of
Information to inquire about the facts of the incidents and to
register our concern. The Minister, who also serves as Deputy Prime
Minister and who is currently heavily involved in the Djibouti
process, has not replied to date, but we expect a response soon.

RANNEBERGER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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