6 February 2007

Alert

Police raids and arrests mark authorities' renewed harassment of opposition weekly


Incident details

Daher Ahmed Farah, Hared Abdallah Barreh, Farah Abadid Hildid

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(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has condemned the government's renewed harassment of the staff of the privately-owned weekly "Le Renouveau", including its managing editor, Daher Ahmed Farah. The newspaper is the mouthpiece of one of Djibouti's main opposition parties, the Movement for Democratic Renewal (MRD).

"After three years of relative peace, 'Le Renouveau' is again the target of government hostility," the press freedom organisation said. "Rather than setting the police and judicial authorities on one of Djibouti's few dissident publications, the authorities should realise that it is archaic to try to control news and information."

Reporters Without Borders added: "Those who work for 'Le Renouveau' and Farah's family and associates must be left in peace as they are being hounded over an article of which the sole shortcoming was to have irked the regime."

The police raided Farah's home without a warrant on 2 February 2007, claiming they were looking for Farah's brother. Farah is currently out of the country. The next day, the police arrested Hared Abdallah Barreh, an MRD member who is in charge of distributing the newspaper, and Farah Abadid Hildid, who heads one of the party's federations.

The two men are currently being held at the headquarters of the police criminal investigation department. MRD vice-president Souleiman Farah Lodon and MRD secretary-general Souleiman Hassan Fadal were meanwhile interrogated successively by the state prosecutor and the police, and then released. The police raided Farah's home again on 4 February and seized a computer.

The police raids and arrests were carried out as part of a judicial investigation into an article published by "Le Renouveau" on 1 February. Headlined "Omar Aïdid incurs the wrath of the authorities," the article was about the arrest of a businessman involved in a dispute with the national bank president, who is President Ismaël Omar Guelleh's brother-in-law.

The Guelleh regime has had Farah in its sights for more than a decade. He was arrested four times in 2003, spending a total of 60 days in prison. His brother Houssein spent nine days in prison in June 2004 for allegedly endangering the First Lady's life when he braked sharply in his car to avoid her passing motorcade. He was covering a street demonstration at the time.



Source

Reporters Without Borders
47, rue Vivienne
75002 Paris
France
rsf (@) rsf.org
Fax:+33 1 45 23 11 51
Djibouti
 
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