UPDATE 1-Al Jazeera says journalist and team detained in Somalia

detained-al-jazeera-journalist-in-somaliaNAIROBI Oct 19 (Reuters) – Somali security agents have detained a British journalist working for television network Al Jazeera together with his cameraman and their driver and fixer, the Qatari channel said on Wednesday.

The detentions come less than a week after the offices of a Somali newspaper were raided and its editor held for three days.

Security forces and officials in Somalia frequently detain or threaten journalists whose coverage has offended them. The Islamist militant group al Shabaab also frequently targets reporters.

The Doha-based satellite network said Hamza Mohamed and his crew were arrested on Tuesday afternoon in the capital Mogadishu and that they had been in Somalia for a week on a reporting assignment.

“Al Jazeera Media Network have been in touch with him since his detention and he is well. He was travelling with a driver, fixer and cameraman, who were also detained,” the statement said.

Officials could not be immediately reached for comment on the detentions, but the channel said it had been informed by the government that he was being held for questioning and there were no charges levelled against him.

On Saturday, intelligence officers stormed the offices of the Xog Ogaal newspaper, confiscating computers and cameras, and detained an editor, according to the National Union of Somali Journalists. He was released three days later.

Media outlets also say they may be subject to further intimidation when repeatedly delayed elections to parliament and the presidency are held – they are currently scheduled for Nov. 30.

Somalia has been convulsed by instability, violence and lawlessness since the early 1990s following the toppling of military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 32 journalists were killed in the country from 2010 to 2015. (Reporting by Katharine Houreld; Writing by Aaron Maasho; Editing by Dominic Evans)

 

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