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Journalist and photographer released, killings continue in Somalia

5 January 2009

A Daily Telegraph correspondent and a Spanish photographer have been released after they were held for 40 days by bandits in Somalia. The National Union of Journalists has welcomed the release of NUJ member Colin Freeman, aged 39, and Jose Cendon, 34, who were handed over to local elders and flown to Kenya yesterday.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ deputy general secretary, said:

"This is a fantastic start to the New Year. Colin's family and his colleagues at the Telegraph have had five anxious weeks since he was abducted in late November.
"I would like to pay tribute to the National Union of Somali Journalists and their general secretary, Omar Faruk Osman, in particular, who worked hard to keep us informed about the situation on the ground.
"Their support and solidarity has been very much appreciated."

Journalists in Somalia face regular threats and intimidation. Last week, a Somali radio journalist was murdered in the south of the country.

Hassan Mayow Hassan, aged 36, from Radio Shabelle was shot in the head twice on his way to cover a conflict between two armed groups.

Aidan White, General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), said:

"This was a brutal and cold murder. The United Nations and the African Union must help the Somali interim government to bring the killer to justice."

During a demonstration to launch their 2008 annual report entitled "Somalia: a precarious and perilous place for the press", the Somali journalists' union denounced "violence, attacks, impunity and injustice against journalists and media" in their country.

Michelle Stanistreet added:

"There is an urgent need to end violence against journalists in Somalia and we call on all warring factions to stop targeting the media.
"The NUJ will do everything we can to assist Somali journalists who, only a few days ago, took to the street to demand protection and right to report freely."

Omar Faruk Osman, who was also recently elected President of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), said:

"The African Union and world community must do all they can to create conditions which enable journalists in Somalia to work without fear for their lives."

Tags: , somalia, nusoj, journalists freed, journalists detained, journalists killed, telegraph, photographers, newspapers, press freedom, impunity, violence, faj