By David Cass
As two Yemeni journalists, who had been detained illegally and put on trial for “harming national unity”, were freed, the New York-based council to Protect Journalists raised new concerns about press harassment there.
As two Yemeni journalists, who had been detained illegally and put on trial for “harming national unity”, were freed, the New York-based council to Protect Journalists raised new concerns about press harassment there.Abdulraheem Mohsen and Ibrahim Hassan were released on the orders of Penal Court judge Ahmad al-Jarmoozi. The two controversial writers had been held incommunicado for nearly a month after writing a series of articles alleging government corruption, human rights abuses and restrictions on civil liberties. They still face trial, which could lead to jail sentences of up to one year.According to the CPJ, however, the government of Yemen continues to harass and throttle the press. It cites as evidence the arrest and interrogation of three foreign correspondents by the press and publication prosecution deepartment. The correspondents held are Faisal Mukaram of the London-based Al-Hayat, Ahmed Al-Haj of AP and Khalid Al-Mahdi of the German press agency DPA. The three journalists were said to have reported a military issue, prohibited by the law of press and publication, following reports on the attack on the helicopter of brigadier Ali Mohammed Saleh by tribesmen of Al-Jawf province. The plane came under fire on Tuesday 4, July while flying over Al-Zahir district. The brigadier was wounded in his shoulder. Other correspondents were summoned by the Ministry of Information and warned by the not to report military issues, otherwise their licenses of correspondence would be confiscated. The CPJ noted that the new detentions happened within days of a presidential decree halting all legal proceedings initiated against the press. However, this decree requires that journalists who intend to benefit from the amnesty sign a pledge admitting their guilt and promising not to commit future "offenses." Executive Director Ann Cooper said, “We believe that criminal prosecutions against the press will only cease when the Yemeni government sends a strong signal that it will not tolerate such legal harassment and launches reforms of the laws used to prosecute journalists.We respectfully call on Your Excellency to do everything within your power to ensure that cases against Mukarram, Bashraheel, al-Hajj, al-Mahdi, Hassainoun, and al-Amoudi are dropped, without qualification. We urge you to work toward repealing statutes in the Press Law and the Penal Code that allow journalists to be criminally prosecuted and jailed for their professional work.”