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Leading Puntland radio station back on air 12 days after closure

A closure order issued to Radio Daljir, the leading news station in the Puntland region of Somalia, was lifted on 5 July after 12 days.

Heavily armed soldiers closed Radio Daljir on 22 June after broadcasting an interview with Gallan, an armed opposition figure and former governor of the Bari region. The Puntland Minister of Information, Mohamud Hasan Soocadde, responded by issuing a letter banning all Puntland media from interviewing opposition politicians or anyone else who questions the policies of the administration.

The following day, the Minister called Radio Daljir Galkayo and threatened reporter Jamaal Farah Adan, saying that the government “will shoot to kill any Radio Daljir reporter that interviews an opposition figure”. The reporter told the Minister that “this is illegal and against the Puntland constitution”, to which the Minister responded that he didn’t care about the constitution. The reporter shared the conversation on the Minister’s Facebook page and it immediately began trending on social media.

The Minister then went to Radio Daljir Garoowe and ordered the station off air. Instead of seeking a court order, Minister Soocadde used his personal armed guards to enforce his order. On the same day the Puntland Police Commissioner ordered that all Radio Daljir stations must stop broadcasting, effective immediately. Heavily armed technicians forcibly took Radio Daljir Bossaso off air.

The closure of Radio Daljir caused international alarm. The US mission to Somalia released a press statement strongly condemning the closure and Reporters Sans Frontieres protested the government’s action.

Mr Adan, the reporter who initially broke the story received daily death threats from two telephone numbers. Radio Daljir informed the local police and the Ministry of Information, but no action was taken.

On June 26 in Garoowe, Abdifatah Cumar Geeddi, Radio Daljir Editor-in-Chief, was returning home at about 9pm after recording the popular show Caawa & Daljir (Tonight & Daljir), when he was stopped by an unmarked car and several armed soldiers. The soldiers shone flash lights in his face and attacked him and his car, shouting: “This is the price you pay for being too loud you son of a dog!” Mr. Geeddi was saved by nearby security guards who witnessed the incident and escaped with facial bruises and bruised ribs. Local media reported that the armed soldiers were the security detail of Minister Soocadde. [Mr. Geeddi’s younger brother, Abdullahi Omar Geeddi, also a Radio Daljir Galkayo reporter, was assassinated by unknown assailants on 31 August 2010.]

Radio Daljir was informed on 5 July that the closure order had been lifted. The closure was the longest in the station’s 13-year history.

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