Somaliland sentences journalist to two-years in prison for visiting Mogadishu

A court in the breakaway republic of Somaliland has sentenced prominent Somali journalist Abdimalik Muse Coldoon to two-years in prison.

Coldoon was accused of undermining Somaliland’s self-proclaimed independence by traveling to Mogadishu and declaring his support for the new Somali president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo. He has been in custody since February 15, when he was arrested after arriving at Hargesia airport from Mogadishu.

Although Somaliland claims to be a democratic society, the breakaway region has been condemned by numerous international human rights agencies for arresting dozens of journalists and stifling free speech. Somaliland authorities regularly arrest journalists, and everyday citizens, if they speak in favor of unity with Somalia or criticize the rampant government corruption in the breakaway region.

Coldoon is famous among Somalis for his compassion and interest in humanitarian work. He hosts a popular social media program called “Help your brothers” where he he raises funds for impoverished people throughout Somaliland. He once raised $17,000 for an H.I.V positive woman who was disowned by her family and living in squalor in eastern Somaliland. Since his arrest, there has been a significant social media movement calling for his release, as well as protests in his hometown Burco.