Somali government security forces have arrested the director of the popular privately owned radio station Shabelle for allowing a reporter to use the station’s camera to record an interview with an alleged rape victim, Al Jazeera has learned.
Speaking from prison on Monday, Abdimalik Yusuf Mohamud said he was arrested because a camera belonging to the station was used by Mohamed Bashir, a Shabelle reporter who interviewed the alleged victim.
“I’m in prison because Mohamed, who is also in prison with me, interviewed the woman that was [allegedly] raped using a camera belonging to the radio station,” Mohamud told Al Jazeera.
“They denied both of us lawyers. They put us in jail with convicted criminals.”
Bashir was arrested five days ago when a video interview of the alleged victim surfaced online.
In the video posted to YouTube on Nov. 16, the 19-year-old, who Al Jazeera will not name but who works for the UN-funded Kasmo radio station, accuses two journalists working for the state-owned Radio Mogadishu of raping her at gunpoint.
The alleged victim and the reporter who interviewed her were arrested after the alleged attackers filed a defamation case against both of them.
No date for hearing has been set.
Somalia’s UN-backed government said it cannot do anything about the case, which is in the hands of the court.
“This is a case involving individual citizens and the case is before the courts. We cannot interfere in the judicial system.” Abdirahman Omar Osman, a spokesman for the Somali government, told Al Jazeera.
“The federal government is committed to dealing with human rights abuses, including rape, and we will not tolerate any abuse.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the Somali government to release the journalists.
“We call on authorities to release Mohamed Bashir and the victim of the alleged rape, and to ensure a transparent and efficient investigation into the allegations,” said CPJ spokesman Tom Rhodes.
“This is not the first time in Somalia that the victim of an alleged rape and a messenger are harassed or imprisoned for reporting such allegations.”
In February of this year, a Mogadishu court sentenced an alleged rape victim and a Somali journalist who interviewed her to one year in prison each.
The ruling was later quashed on appeal, and the journalist has since relocated to Kampala.
Last month, Somali government security forces raided the Mogadishu-based Radio Shabelle, forcing the station to go off the air.
Somalia is considered the most dangerous country on the African continent for journalists.
In 2012, the CPJ reported that 12 journalists were killed in Somalia – the second highest total in the world after Syria – with most of the killings occurring in Mogadishu.
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