Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – Abdalla Ahmed Mumin, a prominent Somali journalist and Secretary General of the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), was released from jail on Monday, just hours after a two-month sentence were handed down on security charges.
The case was widely criticized by rights campaigners and media advocacy groups, who called for the charges to be dropped.
Mumin was arrested in October of last year as part of a government crackdown on media outlets that publish content it considers propaganda for the Islamist militant group Al-Shabab.
Despite the court’s sentence, Mumin was released shortly after the ruling, having already spent approximately five months in jail.
Freedom of expression champion
In a statement on Twitter, Mumin expressed his gratitude for his release and vowed to continue his work defending press freedom and human rights in Somalia. “I went straight to my office to conduct my daily routine,” he wrote.
“I will continue to be on the forefront of defending press freedom and human rights in Somalia.”
Rights groups, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the International Press Institute, had previously called for the charges to be dropped, stating that Mumin faced ongoing threats and persecution from Somali authorities for advocating the right to freedom of expression.
Closing civic space in Somalia
The SJS and four other media advocacy groups also protested the government’s security directive, warning that it would clamp down on free speech.
In a joint letter to Somalia’s attorney general in December, the advocacy groups stated that “continuing his prosecution not only casts a chilling effect on media freedom and journalism, but it also significantly contributes to the closing civic space in the country.”
Dangerous country for journalists
Somalia is considered the most dangerous country for journalists in Africa, with more than 50 journalists killed in the country since 2010.
The nation of 17 million people is ranked 140th out of 180 countries on the global list of press freedom by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
The main threat to journalists in Somalia comes from Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab fighters. However, Somali authorities are also accused of numerous violations.
The release of Abdalle Ahmed Mumin is a victory for press freedom in Somalia and a reminder of the ongoing struggles journalists face in the country.
Despite the challenges, Mumin says he remains committed to his work and will continue to advocate for the right to freedom of expression in Somalia.