Somalia: Government Shuts Down Al-Jazeera Bureau in Mogadishu

Regulation & Policy

The Committee to Protect Journalists (New York) wrote on March 26th that the bureau of satellite television Al-Jazeera in the capital Mogadishu was indefinitely shuttered on Thursday following an order from intelligence officials of Somalia's Ethiopian-backed transitional government, according to news reports.

The bureau of the Qatar-based broadcaster was "effectively closed" after the station received a letter from the transitional government's National Security Agency (NSA) ordering the termination of its operations, correspondent Mohammed Adow told CPJ. The letter did not disclose the reason for the move, Mogadishu bureau head of operations Abshir Mohamed told the Associated Press (AP). But AP quoted Somali Information Minister Madobe Nunow Mohamed as saying that he had not seen the letter. "But I will tell you that Al-Jazeera has conveyed the wrong messages to the world. We will shut down additional radio stations and channels if they distort facts," he said. Adow denied the allegations.

The move came as former Somali transitional parliament speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan announced in a phone interview from Qatar that he had been invited by Al-Jazeera to participate in a television debate with the chairman of the ousted Islamist group, according to leading independent HornAfrik Radio. Adan was sacked in January after he opposed the Ethiopian military intervention and called for peace talks with Islamists, according to international news reports.