Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Somalia: Journalist Gets Six-Year Prison Term for Interviewing Man with Al-Qaeda Links

(Aug. 19, 2010) On August 14, 2010, in Somalia's Puntland State, a court convicted a journalist affiliated with a Bosaso-based radio station of violation of Puntland's anti-terrorism laws, for conducting an interview with a local rebel leader with links to Al-Qaeda. Bosaso is a port town in Puntland. The court imposed a six-year prison term and a fine of US$500. (Puntland Court Jails Journalist for Six Years for Interviewing Islamist Rebel, REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS (Aug. 14, 2010),
.) The trial was said to have been closed to the public, and to have lasted only a few minutes (id.).

Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based non-government organization that advocates for press freedom around the world, demanded the immediate release of the journalist, calling the sentence “flagrant and deliberate press freedom violations by Puntland authorities.” (Id.)

The Puntland Anti-Terrorism Law, which reportedly confers increased power on the state's security apparatus and courts to arrest and sentence individuals suspected of terrorism, was enacted by the 66-member Puntland Parliament only 25 days before the sentencing of the journalist, on July 20, 2010 (Hussein Farah, Puntland Parliament Passes Anti-Terror Law, HORSEED MEDIA (July 20, 2010),
). The journalist most likely was charged under the provisions of this newly enacted law.

Puntland, an area in the northeastern part of Somalia, is composed of the Bari, Nugal, Mudug, Sanaag, Sool, Ayn, and Karkaar regions. On May 5, 1998, it became the Puntland regional state, with its own three-branch governmental system. It is not seeking world recognition as an independent state; rather, it hopes to be part of a future Federal State of Somalia. (Puntland State Profile, Puntland State of Somalia official website, (last visited Aug. 16, 2010).)