File picture:ANA Pictures

Johannesburg - The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called for the immediate release of TV journalist Omar Ali Hassan Serbiya, who has been detained by authorities in Somaliland.

Security officers arrested the journalist when he arrived on holiday at Hargeisa on July 8, the administrative capital of the semi-autonomous republic.

"Authorities in Somaliland should immediately release TV journalist Omar Ali Hassan Serbiya," CPJ said in a statement on Tuesday.

Omar, who works as a producer for Goobjoog Media, was on his way to visit his family in Somaliland when he was picked up.

Goobjoog Media director Hassan Mohamud said since his arrest, Omar has been held without charge at an undisclosed location and his family has been unable to reach him.

Authorities had earlier said that they would charge Omar Ali Hassan Omar in court on Monday, but they did not do so.  

Yasin Mohamud, Somaliland's interior minister, told CPJ that the arrest was linked to views Omar expressed on the internet, on social media, and elsewhere that threatened the "security and stability" of Somaliland. 

The posts in question touched on the sovereignty of Somaliland, which declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991. 

While Somaliland has its own government, its independence is not internationally recognised.

"Somaliland's detention of TV journalist Omar Ali Hassan Serbiya for his views displays a grave disregard for the basic principles of free expression," said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal. 

"We call on authorities in Somaliland to release Omar immediately, and to allow the media to report freely, without fear of reprisal."