Press freedom advocate departs Mogadishu after 6-month legal battle & travel denials

The Somali Journalists Syndicate Secretary-General Abdalle Ahmed Mumin traveled to Nairobi on Wednesday in search of medical attention after being released from a Somali prison.

Mumin, who was released on Sunday, has faced a litany of  a long list of legal issues since his arrest in October 2022 for objecting to a new anti-propaganda law in Somalia that targeted news outlets.

Somali officials thwarted Mumin’s attempt to travel to Nairobi on Tuesday, but international pressure from media rights advocates, the global community, and various embassies contributed to his eventual departure.

On social media, a number of embassies and organisations expressed their support for Mumin.”Sweden welcomes the release of journalist Abdalle Ahmed Mumin,” the Swedish Embassy tweeted.The German Embassy pleaded with Somali authorities to “respect the press freedom & rights of Abdalle” in addition to expressing concern for Mumin’s wellbeing.

Mumin detailed his 166-day incarceration, which included numerous denials of his right to travel, as well as his battle with illness in a lengthy Facebook post.

Mumin blamed his prosecution and incarceration on the judges involved in his case, as well as the State Minister of the Somalia Presidency, Abshir Bukhaari, and the Deputy Minister of Information, Abdirahman Yusuf Al-adala.

He wrote, “All these violations were committed against me in Mogadishu, where I grew up, studied, and spent most of my life and where my parents are buried. I did not receive justice. Sharp knives were sharpened for me by the two Salahs in the court where I sought justice (Salah Dheere and Salah Daban). The law and government were subsumed by the will of a small group of self-proclaimed owners. I was subjected to various forms of abuse and punishment as a result of Abdirahman Adalah and Abshir Bukhaari. In this case, injustice triumphed over justice.

The Somali government arrested Mumin for publicly opposing a directive designed to prevent the spread of extremist ideology. Mumin, a journalist whose work has appeared in The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal, is a staunch advocate for press freedom and human rights in Somalia.

Supporters view his arrest as an effort to suppress independent reporting, given his and SJS’s concerns that the directive’s ambiguous language could be misused.

Somalia ranks 140th out of 180 countries on Reporters Without Borders’ global press freedom list. Since 2010, over 50 journalists have been killed in the country, with both Al-Shabab militants and Somali authorities accused of numerous violations.

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