Farah was taken into custody when he responded to a summons to report to gendarmerie headquarters on 23 April in the afternoon and was transferred to the capital’s Gabode prison the next morning.
He is being held under a Djibouti supreme court decision of 19 September 2004, finding him guilty, as editor and publisher of the newspaper Le Renouveau Djiboutien, of defaming army chief of staff, Gen. Zakaria Cheik Ibrahim, and five female soldiers.
Farah, who was living in exile at the time, was given a three-month suspended jail sentence and was fined 20,000 Djibouti francs (just over 100 dollars). He was also ordered to pay Gen. Ibrahim and the five women 3.5 million Djibouti francs (about 20,000 dollars) in damages.
Farah finally paid this sum at the end of February, obtaining a receipt signed by supreme court lawyer Aref Mohamed Aref, of which Reporters Without Borders has been given a copy. But the authorities are apparently now demanding an additional 9 million Djibouti francs (for a total of 12.5 million Djibouti francs).
“Farah is the victim of flagrant, politically-motivated harassment,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is as if the authorities are determined to keep a judicial threat hanging over him although he has paid his dues to the judicial system. We call on the authorities to free him without delay.”
A leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Renewal and Development (MRD), Farah returned to Djibouti in January after several years in exile. He then took part in the opposition coalition Union for National Salvation’s (USN) campaign in the following month’s parliamentary elections.
Since his return, he has been detained half a dozen times and spent a month in detention, from 4 March to 10 April.