International media NGOs are furious with the French government for
allowing two top security advisers to pose as journalists in Somali,
writes Dennis Itumbi for journalism.co.za.
In a statement, Reporters Without Borders says, "We are shocked that the two French government security advisers who were abducted in Mogadishu this morning had been posing as journalists."
Gunmen kidnapped the pair from the Sahafi Hotel, located in the safest part of the capital. No group has so far claimed responsibility for their abduction.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œBeing a journalist is not a cover, it is a profession,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Reporters Without Borders said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe hope these two advisers are freed quickly but we are shocked that they were passing themselves off as journalists. They were on an official mission and had no need of cover. Their behavior endangers journalists in a region where media personnel are already in danger.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
The two advisers, who had only recently arrived in Mogadishu, had been sent by the French governmentÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) to provide security advice to the transitional government headed by President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.
The director of the Eastern African Editors Forum, David Makali, also termed the action "unacceptable" arguing, "we cannot have people masquerade as a journalist, it is such actions that are just going to complicate the already volatile situation in Somalia in terms of news coverage."
He added, "It is simply unfortunate and unacceptable and offends all principles of war and particularly journalism."
AfricaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s deadliest country for the news media, Somalia was ranked 153rd out of 173 countries in the 2008 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. Kidnappings of journalists and humanitarian aid workers are now common in Somalia.
Canadian reporter Amanda Lindhout and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan are still being held hostage since they were kidnapped near Mogadishu on 23 August 2008. Five journalists have been killed in Somalia since the start of the year.