Somalia says embattled spy chief 'detained' as Djibouti denies claim

Somalia says embattled spy chief 'detained' as Djibouti denies claim

Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh.

Photo credit: AFP

Somalia has accused neighbouring Djibouti of illegally detaining a former spy chief who was in transit from Turkey, even as the neighbouring country's government denies the claim.

President Mohamed Farmaajo’s spokesman, Abdirashid M Hashi, on Friday said former intelligence chief Fahad Yasin was being held by authorities in Djibouti City.

“The Federal Republic of Somalia condemns (the) unlawful detention of National Security Adviser to HE Mohamed Farmaajo at the Djibouti airport,” Mr Hashi said on Twitter.

Djibouti, however, rejected accusations that it had diverted a Turkish Airlines plane that was carrying Mr Yasin.

Mahmoud Ali Yusuf, Djibouti’s Foreign Affairs Minister, said the aircraft had developed technical problems that made it difficult to reach Mogadishu.

“Today’s Turkish Airlines flight scheduled to Mogadishu did not take off from Djibouti due to technical problems according to the company,” Mr Youssouf said in a short statement on Twitter.

“All passengers onboard of today’s Turkish flight to Mogadishu will go back to Istanbul to embark on another flight to Mogadishu,” the official added, terming as fake news the claims of detention.

Mr Yasin was director of the National Intelligence Security Agency (Nisa) until last week, when he resigned and was immediately redeployed as a special adviser to President Farmaajo.

But he left behind a spat between President Farmaajo and his Prime Minister Hussein Roble.

Read: Somali agent's disappearance triggers political crisis

Mr Roble, who had initially suspended the spy boss over alleged mishandling of the murder of a Nisa agent, was on Thursday deprived of the powers to appoint or dismiss officials, something he promptly rejected.

A former journalist, Mr Yasin has in the past used foreign passports. It was unclear why he had been held in a territory he was not flying to.

If the falling-out between over Mr Yasin persists, it will mark the first possible confrontation between the governments of President Farmaajo and Djibouti’s Omar Ismael Guelleh since January this year when Djibouti sided with Kenya in a diplomatic tiff with Nairobi.