MOGADISHU: Somalia's Supreme Court has freed a reporter imprisoned for interviewing a woman who alleged she had been raped by soldiers, in a case that sparked widespread international criticism.
Supreme Court judge Aidid Abdulahi Ilkahanaf said the charges had been dropped and the court "has given journalist Abdiaziz Abdinuur his freedom back".
Both Abdinuur and the woman were initially sentenced to a year in prison for "offending state institutions". But all charges were dropped against the woman earlier this month, while Abdinuur's sentence was halved.
His release, following more than two months' incarceration and after an appeals court ruled he must remain in jail, came as a surprise to many.
The 25-year-old reporter walked out of the courtroom offering prayers of thanks for his release and thanking those who had supported him.
"I'm very happy that I got my freedom back, I thank those who worked in this process that helped my release, including my lawyers," he said.
Abdinuur was detained on January 10 while researching sexual violence in Somalia, but did not air or print a story after interviewing the woman.
He was also found guilty of "making a false interview and entering the house of a woman whose husband was not present".
The court had initially deemed the woman's story to be false after a midwife conducted a "finger test" to see if she had been raped, which Human Rights Watch said was an "unscientific and degrading practice that has long been discredited".
When she was sentenced, the woman was allowed to defer her prison term for six months to breastfeed her infant.
United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said at the time he was "deeply disappointed" at the case.
Abdinuur works for several Somali radio stations and international media outlets.