Somaliland pardons and releases journalist held for over nine months

A Somali journalist who has been in a Somaliland prison for nine months has been freed, an international press freedom group has said.

Online journalist Mohamed Adan Dirir has been released “even though we believe he should never have been jailed in the first place”, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on Twitter.

The journalist has been pardoned by the president of Somaliland, Muse Bihi Abdi, reports suggested.

Dirir, who worked for the Horseed news website, was sentenced to 18 months in jail in October last year for allegedly publishing “false news”, the CPJ said at the time.

He was also fined one million Somaliland shillings.

“Mohamed Adan Dirir should never have been prosecuted in the first place and the manner in which this trial was carried out is unjust,” said CPJ’s Angela Quintal.

The journalist was among 511 people pardoned by President Abdi on Friday to mark the occasion of Eid al-Fitr holiday.

Somaliland’s constitution “guarantees the freedom of expression’ and stipulates that the development of an effective and free media is necessary… for democracy”.

Earlier this month, the CPJ called on Somaliland to “desist from detaining and harassing journalists”.

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