Djiboutian police release two journalists in pursuit of ‘big story’


Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have expressed relief over the release of two Djiboutian journalists working for La Voix de Djibouti (LVD), the small Horn of African country’s only independent media outlet.

On Wednesday afternoon, Mohamed Ibrahim Wais, who is also RSF’s Djibouti correspondent was released from custody, his lawyer confirmed.

The police who had detained him since Sunday June 07 did not return his laptop.

Wais was arrested while trying to obtain new information on the case of Lieutenant Fouad Youssouf Ali, the former Djiboutian air force pilot who deserted and published several videos critical of the regime of Ismail Omar Guelleh.

Kassim Nouh Abar, another LVD correspondent who is covering the same story, had been released on Monday June 8, after having been arrested three days earlier upon leaving his home.

Both journalists had been covering what has been Djibouti’s biggest story for the past week, the video that Lt. Fouad Youssouf Ali, a detained former air force pilot, managed to smuggle out of his prison cell.

The video describes the terrible conditions in which he is being held and his conviction that he will not get out alive.

After criticizing the Djiboutian government in an earlier video made in Ethiopia, where he had sought refuge, Ali has been imprisoned since April 22 in Djibouti, to which he was extradited after being arrested in Ethiopia.

The circulation of this new, prison video has triggered daily demonstrations in Djibouti, which the authorities have dispersed every day for the past few days.

RSF had mobilized its network and taken several steps to plead for the release of the two journalists.

“The release of these two journalists who had only covered an essential subject in their country is a relief,” said Arnaud Froger, head of the Africa office of RSF. As hot as it is, the news in Djibouti does not justify the arrests of the few journalists who are still trying to independently send information on what is going on in this country. We call on the authorities to end these repeated intimidation arrests. ”

Djibouti, 176th out of 180 countries, lost three places in the World Press Freedom Index published by RSF in 2020. (Source: RSF)