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CPJ: Somali court sentences editor to 6 months in prison for spreading false news

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Nairobi, July 29, 2020 — In response to a Somali court sentencing Goobjoog Media Group Deputy Director Abdiaziz Ahmed Gurbiye to six months in prison on false news charges, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:

“This conviction, in a case that should never have been entertained by the courts, is not only an injustice against one journalist but a deep betrayal of the entire Somali media community,” said CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, Muthoki Mumo. “Abdiaziz Ahmed Gurbiye should be released immediately, and the government should make good on its pledge to reform the county’s penal code to ensure that journalists are not prosecuted for their work.”

Abdiaziz was originally detained from April 14 to 18 in connection with a Facebook post in which he criticized the government’s COVID-19 response, according to CPJ reporting at the time and a statement by the Somali Journalists Syndicate, a local press group. Today, the Banadir Regional court in the capital, Mogadishu, convicted Abdiaziz and also fined him five million Somali shillings ($200), according to Goobjoog Director Hassan Mohamud, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app. Abdiaziz is currently detained at Mogadishu Central Prison, and his legal team plans to appeal the conviction and request that his prison term be converted to a fine, Hassan said.

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