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UPDATE – U.S Embassy to Somalia supports VOA journalist after NISA accusation

The U.S. Embassy in Somalia has come to the defence of a veteran VOA journalist, Harun Maruf, who has been singled out by Somalia's intelligence agenc as being a threat to national security. The accusation levelled by the agency has widely been condemned as an affront to press freedom.

The U.S. Embassy in Somalia has come to the defence of a veteran VOA journalist, Harun Maruf, who has been singled out by Somalia’s intelligence agenc as being a threat to national security. The accusation levelled by the agency has widely been condemned as an affront to press freedom.

In a rare rebuke from the U.S. Embassy, the Americans dismissed the statement released by Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) earlier this week as a threat independent media and good governance. The U.S embassy in Mogadishu described Maruf as a ‘respected and professional journalist’ in a rare rebuke at the country’s intelligence agency.

*https://twitter.com/US2SOMALIA/status/1246767185139249152*
*@harunmaruf
 is a respected, professional @VOANews
 journalist & one of the most influential #Somali journalists.  @HSNQ_NISA
 attacks threaten #pressfreedom & independent media as a foundation of democratic, accountable governance in #Somalia*

The Embassy’s remarks come amid sharp crticism from Somalis online and followers of Maruf who condemned the statement from NISA.

NISA issued the statement through its Twitter account on Thursday accusing Maruf who co-authored one of the key books on Al-Shabaab and Islamic militancy in Somalia – Inside Al-Shabaab, the Secret History of Al-Qaeda’s Most Powerful Ally. NISA added it would pursue legal action against him but did not specify any charges against Maruf.

While based in Washington DC, Maruf regularly reports on Somali news and is the host of an investigative program that consistently runs programs exposing Al-Shabaab operations but also critical of the government.

Last year, an expose by Maruf unearthed a link between Somalia’s spy agency and the suspicious importation of firearms which had allegedly been seized by an EU Naval Force. In his periodical investigative series i-dossier last yearn, Maruf revealed that NISA had acquired the weapons from Djibouti and kept them in a secret armory without going through the routine UN sanctions inspections.

Somalia has been under an UN imposed arms embargo since January 1992.

The Djibouti government remained silent the source of the weapons, refusing to confirm or deny it’s origins, the programme details.

According to the expose, a plane carrying firearms landed at Aden Adde Airport in Mogadishu in June 27, 2019 and were stored at an armory within the airport and later transported by NISA owned vehicles to an unspecified location.

Maruf is one of the most followed influential Somali journalists on social media and has extensively covered security and terrorism in Somalia and the Horn of Africa.

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