Abdimalek Musa Oldon, a journalist who attained a degree of fame as an active proponent of social work activities, was released, Saturday, from prison on a presidential pardon.
His incarceration on early 6 June 2019 on charges of disseminating unsubstantiated accusations against a prominent school in Somaliland laced with secondary charges on spreading fake slurs against the government raised concerns at the time.
A month later to the day almost to the day – 8 July 2019, a Hargeisa regional court sentenced him to 3 years and six months.
Oldon missed several presidential pardons on grounds that his case was not the President’s to dismiss, commute or pardon as it was a civil litigation which involved the rights of other civilians as plaintiffs, according to official sources.
Since then, a great number of social and media organizations, individuals and political parties lobbied for his release on humanitarian grounds.
The Honorable Chairman of Waddani – one of two opposition parties in the Republic of Somaliland – expressed his delight in Oldon’s release.
“I am delighted that Journalist-cum-social worker Abdimalek Sheikh Musa Oldon regained his freedom. We thank the President for heeding our calls for his release,” Chairman Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullai ‘Irro’ said in a Tweet he posted.
Waxa aan ku faraxsanahay in Suxufi Samafale Cabdimaalik Sh Muuse Coldoon dib u helay xorriyaddiisii, madaxweynahana waxa aan uga mahadcelinayaa tixgelinta saamaxaadda aan u soo jeedinnay. pic.twitter.com/BAn8Cs2u5Z
— Cabdiraxmaan Cirro (@CirroSL) June 6, 2020
Engineer Faisal Ali Waraabe, the Chairman of the other opposition political party, stated that the two parties had been working on his release for the past three months.
He also disclosed that the path to the presidential pardon was not free of stumbling blocks and detractors.
“I and Irro had been working for three months to persuade Musa (the President) to release you, but you have many enemies who were inciting him against you and making him watch old clips,” he said.
Faisal said: I and @CirroSL had been working for three months to persuade Musa to release you, but you have many enemies who were inciting him against you and making him watch old clips #coldoon pic.twitter.com/QTZ3yaJPUi
— Muj Sarah (@waddani_5) June 6, 2020
Mohamed Ali Bile, Director-General of the Somaliland Presidency, said he was ‘glad to see Journalist Abdimalik Coldon free’.
Glad to see Journalist Abdimalik Coldon free. Coldon was sentenced to three and half years by Hargeisa Regional Court early 2019. #Somaliland President @musebiihi pardoned Coldon after spending one year in jail. pic.twitter.com/6ZNTvREMYv
— Mohamed Ali Bile (@BilemohamedAli) June 6, 2020
Even though, the freed journalist has never publicly apologized for or owned up to alleged allegations including the defamation against Abaarso school, its staff and students, his release was widely welcomed across the republic.
Not everyone was – understandably – happy of his early release as there was no indication that Mr Oldon has learned from mistakes made which led to his conviction.
Coldoon was arrested for inciting violence against the children at @AbaarsoSchool. Accusing the Internationally known school of turning children into "homosexuals" & "Jews." pic.twitter.com/cPTMl9HfmA
— Nabad iyo Caano (@VancitySam) June 6, 2020
Coldoon is not a reporter but a propagandist who put ppl's life at risk. He should have served his full sentence.
— YAYO, a HY shogun. (@YahyaYayoHassan) June 6, 2020
Despite his better qualities, Oldon has more than on one occasion practically and verbally expressed political statements that went against the declared sovereignty of his homeland.
There was a time he went out of his way to seek out the presence of the Somalia federal government president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, openly courting him as he as openly campaigned for his election in activities that robbed him of a journalist’s objectivity.
His brief infatuation with the Somalia leader petered out soon enough and the journalist-turned-social worker, later, expressed displeasure with the emerging heavy-handed policies of Mr Farmaajo.
He changed the tone to a greater Somalia ‘brotherhood’ which, to many, was not that different from Villa Somalia propaganda spouts – even though he might not have meant to project it as so.
Oldon’s case was not also helped by Somalia organizations and individuals as well as pro-unionists who adopted it as a drumming board to jab at Somaliland’s yet-to-be-recognized reclamation of sovereignty.
Even at his release, the Somalia element wished to underline that Mr Oldon was not a true Somalilander but theirs, too, to rub salt on festering wounds painting him as a ‘freed’ political prisoner.
The Director of Communications of Somalia’s Presidency – Villa Somalia – led the pack with an expression on tweet welcoming the release of Abdimalek Oldon. His was immediately retweeted by NUSOJ – one of the Somalia media organizations which added ‘end using outdated and draconian Penal Code against journalists and freedom of expression’.
— NUSOJ (@NUSOJofficial) June 7, 2020
@FESOJ_SOMALI welcomes the release of Somali journalist & social media activist Abdimalik Muse Oldon by the Somaliland authority on Saturday 06 June, 2020 from Hargeisa prison. Marodi Jeh court sentenced him 3 & half year jail on July 8, 2019 where he has was suffering since then pic.twitter.com/fPwEbLS5qi
— Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ) (@FESOJ_SOMALIA) June 6, 2020
— Abukar Awale ( Qaaddiid ) (@Abukarawale) June 6, 2020
It is a mark of #Somaliland’s audacity that it jails a great humanitarian like #Coldoon for “treason and incitement of hatred” and expects Northerners beyond its control to surrender. Hell, No! pic.twitter.com/KRjNJWJF70
— Mohamoud Gaildon (@MohamoudGaildon) June 6, 2020
“ @sjs_Somalia is relieved by the news of journalist Oldon’s freedom today. Oldon should not have been detained in the first place,” @Cabdalleaxmed said “We wish to remind #Somaliland authorities to stop arresting journalists for only exercising their right to freedom of speech.” pic.twitter.com/HOVcUryqnB
— Somali Journalists Syndicate – SJS (@sjs_Somalia) June 6, 2020
It is not yet clear how the released social worker will react to his release once the euphoria of the moment passes or whether he will confine his activities to social work or if he would desist from a re-immerse on controversial, political issues.