After a 6-month legal battle and travel obstacles, a Somali journalist and supporter of press freedom leaves Mogadishu
Wednesday March 29, 2023
Abdalle Ahmed Mumin. SUPPLIED/ FACEBOOK
Nairobi (AX) – Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, Secretary-General of the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), arrived in Nairobi on Wednesday seeking medical treatment shortly after his release from a Somali prison. Mumin, who was freed on Sunday, has faced a litany of legal problems since being arrested in October 2022 for criticizing Somalia’s new anti-propaganda directive targeting media organizations.
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.
Several embassies and organizations voiced their support for Mumin on social media. The Swedish Embassy tweeted, “Sweden welcomes the release of journalist Abdalle Ahmed Mumin. Important that he is allowed freedom of movement to seek medical care.” The German Embassy expressed concern for Mumin’s health, urging Somali authorities to “respect the press freedom & rights of Abdalle.” The US Embassy criticized Mogadishu airport authorities for blocking Mumin from travelling, while the Committee to Protect Journalists urged Somali authorities to ensure Mumin could receive medical treatment in Kenya.
In a comprehensive Facebook post, Mumin described repeated denials of his right to travel and his battle with illness during his 166-day imprisonment. Mumin wrote, “I am leaving Mogadishu with a high fever, having lost justice and doubting my Somaliness after being held captive for 166 days. My civil rights had been violated, and I no longer felt safe. Those who fight for their rights will not be defeated! God Willing! I trust God, and He is enough for me!”
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.”
Mumin has faced a series of arrests and persecution by Somali authorities. After his initial arrest in October 2022 and subsequent release in February 2023, Mumin was re-arrested later that month while attending a public consultation event in Mogadishu. He has been held incommunicado at the Mogadishu central prison since February 23, 2023, suffering from allergies and kidney pain. The Somali Media Association (SOMA), Somali Mechanism for Safety of Journalists (SMSJ), and SJS have called for Mumin’s unconditional release, decrying his continued persecution.
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.
Mumin was released from prison in February 2023 after serving a two-month sentence on security charges. The Somali Journalists Syndicate, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the International Press Institute have called for the charges to be dropped, emphasizing the continued threats and persecution Mumin endures for promoting freedom of expression in Somalia. The media fraternity in Somalia has condemned Mumin’s treatment as an attack on the entire Somali media community, highlighting the chilling effect on press freedom and the self-censorship that has followed the government’s October 8 directive.