CJFE calls for Swift Release of Journalists in Somalia

Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) calls for the swift release of Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout and her three colleagues who were kidnapped on Saturday, August 23, 2008, near the Somalian capital of Mogadishu. Lindhout, a free-lance journalist who is said to be reporting for French television while in Somalia, was visiting a refugee camp when she and her companion, Australian journalist, Nigel Brennan, along with a Somalian journalist Abdifatah Elmi, and their driver, identified as Mahad, were abducted. "We are saddened to hear of yet another attack on journalists in Somalia" said CJFE President Arnold Amber. "We hope that those involved will do the right thing and immediately and unconditionally release these journalists and their driver." CJFE has been in touch with Somalian-based free expression organization the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), who has said that no group or party has yet taken responsibility for the kidnapping, and no ransom demands have yet been made public. However, NUSOJ thinks it is quite likely that the motivation for the kidnapping is financial. In early August, two Italian aid workers were released after being taken hostage in Somalia, amid reports that a US $1,000,000 ransom was paid. CJFE joins with NUSOJ in calling upon the transitional government, Mogadishu elders and intellectuals to take immediate steps to protect all journalists from becoming victims of violence and intimidation, and in particular to work for the swift release of these journalists and their driver. CJFE has collected signatures on a petition calling for the immediate release of the journalists, which you can see here. CJFE is extremely concerned about the danger facing all journalists working in Somalia. Last year, Ali Iman Sharmarke, a Somali Canadian who helped co-found the Horn Afrik radio station was killed when his car drove over a remote-controlled landmine as he was returning from the funeral of another journalist, Mahad Ahmed Elmi. A total of eight journalists were killed in Somalia in 2007, making it one of the deadliest countries in the world. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is an association of more than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and around the world.

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