MOGADISHU – MAY 21, 2019 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) calls Somaliland’s Supreme Court to quash charges against journalist Abdimalik Muse Oldon and release him unconditionally.
Mr Oldon was arrested by the Somaliland police from his hometown of Burao on 17 April, 2019 over critical social media posts. He was then transferred to Hargeisa, where the police sought to form unfounded charges of defamation and anti-Somaliland activities against him, according to the journalist’s lawyer Mubarik Abdi Ismail who spoke with Somali Journalists Syndicate on Monday.
Journalist Abdimalik appeared before the court in Hargeisa three times: April 20th, April 27th and May 4th. At the first court appearance, the Marodi Jeh Regional Court turned down to listen the case saying that the journalist was arrested from Burao and that the Hargeisa-based court was not within the territorial jurisdiction to listen the cases.
Unfortunately, the somaliland authorities rushed to the Supreme Court to find approval for the police application seeking journalist Oldon be kept in prison for ongoing investigations.
“During all of the three court appearances, the police sought custody orders allowing them to hold the journalist for more days without presenting official charges,” lawyer Mubarik told Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS).
“During the last court appearance which was on May 4, 2019, my client Abdimalik Muse Oldon was brought to the court in Hargeisa. The police brought two allegations which are defamation and anti-Somaliland articles he posted on Facebook,” the lawyer adds.
“We, Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) call for the unconditional release of Abdi Malik Muse Oldon” SJS said, “Media professionals should be allowed to exercise their granted freedoms in accordance with the Somaliland Constitution and stop oppressive measures to silence the independence voices.”
“Late last week as Somaliland was celebrating its 28th Independence Anniversary, in a presidential decree President Muse Bihi Abdi pardoned 517 prisoners with minor crimes, but unfortunately the list was mot included Mr. Oldon’s name. While Oldon did not commit any crime except that he has expressed his journalistic views,”
Mr. Oldon, who is also an activist was arrested and sentenced for two years in jail for what Somaliland authorities called as endangering peace and security in April 2017 but he was later released.
The journalist has then gone into exile in Ethiopia for a while before he returned back to Burao in Somaliland in March this year.
Meanwhile, an online petition calling for the release of Abdimalik has now garnered more than 4,600 signatures out of the proposed target of 5,000 signatures so far.