A Somali court on Monday sentenced a freelance journalist to two months in prison accused of threatening national security, according to a news organization, a case criticized by human rights activists and media advocacy groups.
The conviction of Abdalle Ahmed Mumin is "
an obvious parody of justice
", denounced on Twitter the president of the Syndicate of Somali Journalists (SJS), promising to appeal the decision targeting the journalist who is also the secretary general of his organization .
Attack on freedom of expression
not only sends a chilling message to the entire media community but also instills fear among professionals and press freedom groups
", added Mohamed Ibrahim.
Prior to the sentencing, human rights groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Press Institute had called for the charges to be dropped, saying Mumin was subject to continued threats and persecution from Somali authorities for defending the right to freedom of expression.
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These prosecutions contribute "
significantly to the closing of civic space in the country
", they said in a joint letter sent in December to the Attorney General of Somalia.
Abdalle Ahmed Mumin was arrested in October, shortly after a government decision to step up crackdowns on the media, which the authorities say are involved in the propaganda of radical Islamists Shebab.
Most dangerous country for journalists
The SJS union and four other media advocacy groups protested the government's decision, saying it would restrict freedom of expression.
The NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranks Somalia 140th (out of 180 countries) on its world press freedom list with more than 50 journalists killed in the country since 2010.
According to RSF, Somalia (17 million inhabitants) is the most dangerous country for journalists in Africa.
They are mainly threatened by Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab who are trying to overthrow the internationally-backed government, but the authorities are also accused of violations against them.