Washington, D.C., January 6, 2010 – The Voice of America (VOA) is pleased with the release from jail of Mohamed Yasin Isahaq, a VOA stringer in Somalia who had been held without charges since late December in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland.
"Mr. Isahaq is an excellent journalist and we join his colleagues and his family in welcoming his release," said Gwen Dillard, director of VOA’s Africa Division.
On the evening of December 20, armed vehicles operated by the government’s Puntland Intelligence Services surrounded the stringer’s house and took Mr. Isahaq into custody. His arrest came days after he reported a story for VOA on the plight of internally displaced Somalis in and around the southern part of Galkayo, Puntland.
In November, 2009, Isahaq suffered a minor chest injury after police in Galkayo opened fire on his car at a police checkpoint.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has expressed concern about what it calls a "deteriorating situation" for journalists in Puntland and the rest of Somalia. CPJ’s Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes has praised Isahaq as one of "the best journalists" working in the region. (read more about press freedoms in Somalia at http://www.cpj.org/africa/somalia/)
VOA’s Somali service broadcasts 31/2 hours of radio programming daily, seven days a week, aimed at Somalia and the rest of the Horn of Africa region. The service can also access on the Internet at http://www1.voanews.com/somali/news/.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 125 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages and are intended exclusively for audiences outside of the United States. VOA is the leading U.S. international broadcaster.
For more information, please call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.