Somaliland authorities release TV station owner after Ethiopian official intercedes on his behalf

Ahmed Abukar, owner of Universal TV, a prominent Somali television station and media outlet, has been released by authorities in Somaliland after he spent two days in prison there.

According to Abukar, he was released after the president of the Somali Region of Ethiopia, Abdi Mohamed Omar (“Abid Illay”), called Somaliland president Ahmed Mohamed Siilanyo and asked for his release. A militia operating under the control of Omar, the Liyuu Police, operates right next to the Somaliland border and occasionally crosses over to intimidate Somaliland officials, perhaps explaining Siilanyo’s cooperative behavior.

It’s not clear why Abukar was detained, however his television station has been airing political programming which may have offended Somaliland authorities.

Somaliland has come under criticism for detaining and intimidating many journalists. Currently prominent journalist and humanitarian Abdimalik Musa Oldon is imprisoned in the breakaway region because he expressed support for the recent election in Somalia, which Somaliland authorities opposed. According to observers, he is scheduled to stand trial for charges of “subverting” Somaliland’s independence in the coming few weeks.