December 15, 2009

VII. Press Censorship and Attacks against Journalists and Newspapers

The government in San’a has cracked down on independent and southern partisan reporting on events in the south. Free expression in Yemen is under siege.

On May 4, 2009, the Ministry of Information suspended from publication eight daily and weekly independent newspapers over coverage they had given to events in the south.[145]  According to Yemeni lawyers this was an unprecedented and unlawful move.[146] The weeklies were allowed to commence publication again in late June.

On May 11, 2009 the government created a new court to try journalists. By July it had begun trying some cases.[147] There separately exists a special prosecutor for press and publication matters, who in the past has taken journalists and media personnel to court over alleged violations of the penal code and the Press and Publications Law.

The abuses against journalists, editors, bloggers and opinion writers documented below, while novel in their severity, are not a new phenomenon in Yemen. In 2008, Human Rights Watch research into human rights abuses committed in the context of the armed conflict between Huthi rebels and government forces in northern Yemen found severe restrictions on freedom of expression, and a widespread campaign of intimidation and threats, arbitrary arrests, and trumped-up charges against journalists and other opinion-makers.[148]  

Legal Standards on Freedom of Expression

Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantees freedom of expression:

Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any media of his choice.[149]

International law allows for the restriction of freedom of expression “for the protection of national security,” but this does not cover peaceful expression of demands for independence, as the Johannesburg Principles on National Security, Freedom of Expression, and Access to Information make clear.[150]

Yemen’s Press and Publication Law of 1990, which establishes the Ministry of Information and regulates press freedom, is on paper one of the most liberal press laws in the Middle East. It sets out a broad range of freedoms for journalists, and the rights of citizens to an independent press:

Freedom of knowledge, thought, the press, expression, communication and access to information are rights of the citizen which enable him/her to express his/her thoughts...The press shall be independent and shall have full freedom to practice its vocation....The press shall be free to print what it pleases and to gather news and information from their sources...The law assures the protection of journalists and authors, and it provides the legal guarantees necessary for them to practice their profession, to enjoy freedom of expression and immunity from interference as long as they do not contravene the provisions of this law.[151]

However, while asserting that the “press shall be independent,” the same preamble also places a paternalistic burden on the press: “It shall serve society, form public opinion and express its different outlooks within the context of the Islamic creed, within the basic principles of the Constitution, and the goals of the Yemeni Revolution and the aim of solidifying national unity.”[152]

The law places vague prohibitions on the types of news that can be published. Yemeni authorities have used the law’s article 103 to censor the independent press. It prohibits criticism of the head of state as well as the publication of any articles that “might spread a spirit of dissent and division among the people,” or that “leads to the spread of ideas contrary to the principles of the Yemeni revolution, [or is] prejudicial to national unity or the image of the Yemeni, Arab, or Islamic heritage.” [153]  

Penalties for violating these prohibitions, if proven in court, include the closing of a publication, banning the journalist from practicing journalism, and a YAR 10,000 (US$50) fine or one year in prison, although journalists have been sentenced to even longer prison sentences for critical articles. [154] The minister of information also may order the seizure of any newspaper “issued or circulated in violation” of the Press and Publications Law, but “the matter shall be brought before the courts to rule on whether the material seized should be confiscated,” and the newspaper’s officials have “the right to appeal to the courts against the decision of seizure and to claim compensation.” [155]

“Red Lines”: Government-Imposed Self-Censorship

Violations of media freedom in Yemen involve not only the seizure of newspapers, arrests of journalists, and other such forms of persecution, but also efforts to ensure that the media practice self-censorship and do not cross “red lines”—topics that are off-limits and which will lead to the confiscation of the issue, or even arrest and prosecution of the journalist or editor. Such “red lines,” not always written down, are well-known to journalists and editors and are not limited to events in southern Yemen. One editor told Human Rights Watch how officials from the National Security service wrote to journalists and editors in 2004, ordering them to refrain from criticizing the president or members of his family (many of whom hold government office or prominent positions in the economy), official abuse of power, and the question of who will succeed President Saleh.[156] 

Since the intensification of the protests in southern Yemen in 2009, journalists and editors have faced increasing restrictions in reporting on the south. Journalists and editors told Human Rights Watch that they would be crossing “red lines” if they published interviews with exiled southern politicians or Southern Movement leaders, published pictures of the violence committed by the security agencies against demonstrators, or even mentioned the formal names of the organizations behind the protests.

The Yemeni government also uses bribery to silence its critics. According to a credible source, the president’s office has offered newspaper editors “support payments” amounting to thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars per month, in order to toe a pro-government line in their newspapers. One independent editor explained to Human Rights Watch that even though he had continued to refuse such bribes, officials in the president’s office continued to call him, reminding him of the large sums of money which were “accumulating” in his account.[157]

Closure of Al-Ayyam Newspaper

Aden-based Al-Ayyam is Yemen’s oldest and most popular daily newspaper, with a daily print-run of 70,000. It is also the only independent newspaper in Yemen to posses its own printing press—all others print on government presses, which makes it easier for the authorities to interfere with their publication (see below).

The current troubles facing Al-Ayyam are affected by an incident in February 2008, involving a property dispute rather than newspaper content, when a northern official tried to take control of Al-Ayyam’s San’a offices.[158] When protests and clashes in southern Yemen intensified in April 2009, Al-Ayyam “covered this extensively—there was blood and gore on the cover of the paper for days,” Bashraheel Hisham Bashraheel, the general manager of Al-Ayyam, told Human Rights Watch.[159] President Saleh began sending envoys to the paper, asking them to tone down its coverage. Starting in early April, according to Bashraheel, Yasir al-Yamani, the deputy governor of Lahj province and a trusted middleman for the president, asked the editors to stop using images of the bloodshed, saying that the president was worried the images would be used as evidence against him at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

On April 9, Bashraheel said, President Saleh called Al-Ayyam’s owner to get him to publish under his own name a pro-government editorial on the situation in the south. In return, he promised that the February 2008 San’a case against Al-Ayyam’s owners would be dropped. Hisham Bashraheel complied and printed the editorial faxed from the president’s office, but the paper also continued to critically cover the protests and the government’s violent response. Staff of the newspaper then received personal threats, Hisham Bashraheel said: a layout designer at the paper found a note stuck to his door threatening to “slit his throat” if he continued to work for the paper.

On May 1, armed individuals stopped Al-Ayyam’s delivery van in the Milah area of Lahj (see above). According to Bashraheel, the attackers belonged to the recently formed pro-government Committee to Protect Unity.

On the night of May 2, soldiers at two military checkpoints outside Aden confiscated more than 50,000 copies of Al-Ayyam, the entire print-run designated for the rest of the country. A receipt Al-Ayyam received for the confiscated copies was signed by the police, the intelligence service, and the Ministry of Information. By May 4, security forces surrounded the Al-Ayyam Aden office and searched all leaving cars, preventing the distribution of the entire 70,000 copy print-run.[160] In light of the siege on the paper’s headquarters, the owners on May 4 decided to cease publication, and Yemen’s largest independent newspaper remained unable to publish when Human Rights Watch visited more than two months later, on July 12, 2009.

Following the forced closure of Al-Ayyam on May 4, the authorities again revived the property dispute case of February 2008, with persons the Bashraheels believed to belong to the security forces shooting at the family’s San’a compound and attempting to serve summons on family members to testify in court (the family refuses to attend hearings out of fear for their safety). On the pretext of enforcing the summons, on May 12 security forces launched an attack on the Al-Ayyam compound in Aden, engaging in an hour-long gun battle with the compound’s guards that left one person dead and another gravely wounded, but the security forces were unable to take control. Since the shootout, the Bashraheel family has sought refuge in the newspaper compound, unable to leave out of fear of arrest or worse. Government ministers have visited the family to seek to mediate an end to the stand-off, without tangible results to date.

Multiple Closure of Newspapers, May-June 2009

Yemen’s minister of information, Hasan Ahmad al-Luzi, on May 4 announced a ban on the sale of eight of Yemen’s most prominent independent daily and weekly newspapers, extending the ban already placed on Al-Ayyam to the privately-owned Al-Masdar, Al-Watani, Al-Diyar, Al-Mustaqilla, Al-Nida, Al-Shari’, and Al-Ahali papers.[161] On May 6, the minister announced that the newspapers had violated the country’s press law by publicizing articles “against national unity and the country’s highest interests,” and accused the papers of “inciting violations of law and order, spreading hatred and enmity among the united people of Yemen.”[162] According to the affected editors, this was the first time since the founding of the unified Yemen state in 1990 that such severe restrictions had been placed on the independent press.

President Saleh backed the ban on most of Yemen’s independent press in a May 6 speech to the parliament:

If there is room to talk in the press then you have to publish kindness, love, and brotherhood. If there were mistakes in development or security or the judiciary, criticize those mistakes and there would be no objection, there is room for that. But the unity, freedom, democracy, revolution, the republic, and the constitution are national constants that cannot be crossed.[163]

According to the affected editors, the decision to close the newspapers was taken after they published interviews with leaders of the Southern Movement and detailed, often graphic, articles and photographs about the violence committed by security services at the protests.[164]

On May 18, the office of the Prosecutor for Press and Publication (Niyabat al-Sahafa wal-Matbu’at) summoned Sami Ghalib, the editor-in-chief of Al-Nida’ newspaper, and three of his colleagues to inform them that the minister of information had brought charges against them for “inciting armed disobedience, incitement against national unity, and promoting sectarianism.”[165] According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, an international monitoring group, the investigation extended also to editors and journalists of Al-Shari’, Al-Masdar, Al-Diyar, and Al-Watani newspapers.[166]

On May 11, the High Judicial Council, Yemen’s highest judicial institution, announced the establishment of a Specialized Press Court to prosecute journalists, a development which seems to mirror the establishment of a Specialized Criminal Court which tried the leadership of the Southern Movement (see below). Journalists fear that the establishment of the Specialized Press Court will lead to further persecution of journalists, and claim that the establishment of such specialized courts violates Yemen’s constitution.

On July 11, the Specialized Press Court held its first criminal hearing, relating to earlier (December 2006) charges against editor Sami Ghalib following his newspaper’s publication of a story investigating corruption at the Ministry of Endowments. The ministry brought charges of “insult and humiliation” against Ghalib, whose lawyers demanded a clarification of the legal basis for those charges at the first hearing.[167] On August 2, the Specialized Press Court dismissed the case, ruling that the paper’s coverage did not include slanderous or defamatory material and was within the bounds of what is legally permissible to publish in Yemen.[168]

The minister of information lifted the suspension of some newspapers in late June, but continued the ban on Al-Ayyam and Al-Watani. He reportedly issued strict instructions to editors and journalists of the papers allowed to publish again to refrain from covering the southern protests, the crackdown, or interviews with leaders of the Southern Movement.[169]  However, when the newspapers then tried to print, the government-owned Al-Thawra press refused, saying they had no instructions from the Ministry of Information to do so. “That’s how they play games with you,” commented one of the affected editors, Sami Ghalib of Al-Nida’ newspaper.[170]

Some of the newspapers went to more costly privately-owned small printing presses, but their operations remain severely disrupted and heavily censored. Al-Watani was finally allowed to publish an issue in mid-July, but security forces confiscated all the issues being sent to Aden.[171] On August 4, copies of the Al-Diyar newspaper were confiscated by the authorities from newsstands in San’a because of articles relating to the southern protests.[172] On August 10, the Ministry of Information ordered the confiscation of all copies of issue 105 of Al-Ahali newspaper, from the al-Thawra printing press where the paper was being printed, because of coverage of the southern protests. [173]

Arrests of Journalists

Other serious and widespread abuses include the arbitrary arrest of journalists and editors.

Gha’id Nasr Ali, the Radfan correspondent for Al-Shari’ and Al-Thawri newspapers, told Human Rights Watch about several occasions on which security agents had beaten, threatened, or detained him for his activities as a journalist. On April 21, 2008, Central Security police arrested him for covering a protest at Radfan Teaching College, and detained him for seven days. In detention, they told him to sign a commitment not to write about protests again.[174] On May 13, 2008, Central Security again detained and badly beat him after he photographed a protest in Radfan. Ali told Human Rights Watch:

I was taking photographs of the protest. They beat me that time, eight people from General Security, including the director of General Security in Radfan, who ordered them to beat us and arrest us, me and some student leaders. They beat us with batons and gun butts, and while taking us to the district jail they continued to beat us in their vehicles.

Authorities detained Gha’id Nasr Ali in the district jail until May 22, when he was charged with “infringing the unity of the Yemeni republic” and released on bail pending trial. On July 18, a court convicted him and 22 others, and gave them six-month suspended sentences, on the condition that they take no part in future protests. Authorities again detained Gha’id Nasr Ali on January 13, 2009 when he covered a protest in Aden, and kept him another five days in Aden’s prison before releasing him, after he pledged that he would not participate in future protests.

On January 2, 2009, Political Security agents held Wajdi al-Sha’bi, a correspondent for Al-Ayyam, Al-Watani, and Mukalla Press, at the Republican (Jumhuri) Hospital in Aden where he was investigating a story about inadequate medical care in the hospital. Political Security agents detained and questioned him for several hours.[175] 

After his story on inadequate hospital care appeared in Al-Watani and Mukalla Press on January 5, the head of security for Aden governorate ordered his re-arrest. This happened on January 13, when he covered protests in Aden. Police took him to the Basatin police station, checked his identification, and an officer there told him, “You are wanted, with an alert out to all police stations on orders from the security chief.” They threw al-Sha’bi in a cell with drug criminals and Somali pirates, where he spent ten days, and then transferred him to the central prison in Lahj, where he spent an additional week, without ever being charged or questioned. Finally, the deputy prosecutor received a charge sheet from Aden, accusing al-Sha’bi of “killing soldiers,” but al-Sha’bi told Human Rights Watch the prosecutor “knew these were false charges” and “he released me without any conditions.”[176]

Al-Sha’bi also told Human Rights Watch that he could no longer continue his university studies, even though he was a final-year student in the journalism and media department, and close to getting his degree.

Now, I cannot go on studying, because if I enter my faculty, Political Security will arrest me because I continue to write for the media. A [sympathetic] southern Political Security officer warned me that this would happen. And I was so close to finishing my degree.[177]

Attacks against Al Jazeera Television

The Qatar-based satellite news channel Al Jazeera is one of few international news agencies to operate a permanent bureau in Yemen, based in San’a. The network extensively covered the Southern Movement protests and repeatedly drew the ire of Yemeni authorities.

On at least two recent occasions, security officers prevented Al Jazeera journalists from physically leaving their hotels to stop them from filming footage at protests in southern cities. On May 21, 2009, security forces confined Al Jazeera bureau chief Murad Hashim to his hotel room in Aden while protests took place outside.[178] On July 7, security forces again confined Hashim and his crew to their Aden hotel rooms.[179]

Al Jazeera journalists have also faced physical assault. On June 22, masked persons attacked Al Jazeera’s Aden correspondent Fadil Mubarak while he was filming a protest in Ja’ar, in Abyan province. Mubarak was injured and required stitches for his wounds. On June 17, unidentified persons threw stones on an Al Jazeera vehicle on its way to filming a pro-government protest in al-Dhali’, damaging the vehicle. In both attacks, the attackers remain unidentified. Pro-government and official news outlets have not faced such attacks.[180]

On July 12, a member of parliament from the ruling General People’s Congress Party, Ali Mis’id al-Lahbi, called for the closure of Al Jazeera’s Yemen bureau, saying that the channel was “hostile to Yemen’s unity and security” and allowed itself to be exploited by “Yemen’s enemies...especially the secessionists who aim to [damage] Yemen’s image abroad.”[181] Government officials barred Al Jazeera from covering government events, in apparent retaliation for its critical coverage of the southern protests and the Sa’da war in the north. On July 27, the Al Jazeera correspondent was the only journalist denied entry to a question-and-answer session of the Yemeni parliament on defense and national security, and officials had expelled the Al Jazeera team from an Aden conference of local officials with the deputy Prime Minister earlier in July.[182]

On July 26, Al Jazeera’s San’a bureau received a call from a phone number registered in Saudi Arabia. The caller told the secretary who answered the phone: “Tell the bureau chief that his death is imminent. By God, we will get him [even] at his home.”[183] On April 11, Al Jazeera bureau chief Murad Hashim and Al Jazeera journalist Ahmad al-Shalafi both received similar threats on their mobile phones from a Saudi phone number, warning them to stop all coverage of the events in southern Yemen.[184] Murad Hashim told the Committee to Protect Journalists:

There is a massive incitement campaign against us by media affiliated with the ruling party.... Officials publicly incite the masses against us. Party-affiliated newspapers have said that a jihad against al-Jazeera and its journalists is a religious duty. There have been assaults on our staffers, [and] we have been prevented from doing our work many times, and we have received threatening messages and calls.[185]

Detention of Bloggers and Blocking of Websites

Yemen has a lively community of bloggers, and because of the severe restrictions on independent print and broadcast media, some of the most detailed, albeit politically partisan reporting on events in southern Yemen appears on blogs, which also publish interviews with Southern Movement leaders. As a result, bloggers have come into the crosshairs of the security agencies: most of the blogs that report on events in southern Yemen have been blocked by Yemen’s government-controlled internet service providers, and Political Security officials have detained editors of blogs and a number of prominent bloggers.

On June 18, 2009, armed security officials came to the home of Salah al-Saqladi, the editor of AdenGulf.Net, a popular website focusing on news from southern Yemen and providing extensive coverage of the southern protests. Security forces detained al-Saqladi and confiscated his computer and private papers.[186] He remains in detention as of this writing.

At the time of Human Rights Watch’s fieldwork in Yemen, this was the latest of a number of similar arrests. On May 12, 2009, armed security officials raided the home, of Yahya Ba-Mahfuz, a Mukalla-based blogger and former manager of the Hadhramawt news website that covered southern protests and published the statements of leaders in the Southern Movement. The security personnel detained Ba-Mahfuz and seized his computer and other personal property.[187] As of this writing, he reportedly remains in the custody of Political Security after being transferred to San’a.[188]

On May 4, 2009, armed security officials raided the home of Fu’ad Rashid, the editor-in-chief of Mukalla Press, a news website, and arrested him. After being held incommunicado for seven weeks, authorities transferred Rashid into the custody of Political Security in Aden, where as of this writing he remains in detention.

Most of the websites that report on southern Yemen and provide commentary on the Southern Movement have been blocked for months, and in some cases for years. Among the websites reportedly inaccessible inside Yemen because of government censorship are those of Sawt al-Janub (Voice of the South), Shamsham News, al-Khalif Aden Network, al-Dhali’ Forums, Al-Ayyam newspaper, Mukalla Press and even the Armiesofliberation.com blog by Jane Novak, which compiles often critical news accounts on Yemen.[189]  

Following deadly protests in January 2008, the Yemeni authorities also blocked several websites, apparently after they posted graphic video footage of security forces firing “unprovoked at the crowd [of protesters],” according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.[190] The websites blocked in January 2008 included YemenPortal, YemenHurr, Hour’s News, Hdramut, al-Teef, al-Yemen, AdenPress, and SoutalGnoub.[191] The Yemeni government allegedly also blocked domestic access to videos of the protests uploaded onto Youtube and other websites that have content about the southern protests by labeling the videos as “pornography” in its filtering software.[192]

Saudi Arrest and Rendition of Yemeni Bloggers

Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s wealthier northern neighbor, hosts a large number of Yemenis, including many southern Yemenis, both political exiles and ordinary persons seeking greater economic opportunities in Saudi Arabia.[193] There are Yemeni contributors to Yemen-related news-services, blogs, and other journalistic fora on the internet operating from Saudi Arabia who are very critical of the Yemeni authorities. The Saudi intelligence service, the mabahith, has over the past year cooperated with its Yemeni counterpart in detaining Yemeni bloggers and rendering them to Yemen.

In one such case, on October 20, 2008, Saudi intelligence officials detained Ali Shayif, a blogger who wrote for the Bawwabat al-Dhali’ (Dhali’ Portal), from his apartment in Jeddah. For the next eight months, Shayif remained in Saudi custody, without being allowed phone calls or visitors. His family in Yemen said they knew nothing about his fate besides his arrest, reported by Shayif’s roommates.[194] In May or June 2009, the Saudi authorities transferred Shayif to Yemen without any due process. He remains in the custody of the Political Security Organization in San’a as of this writing. In early July 2009, Political Security allowed his family to visit him, and since then he has been allowed to make a few phone calls per week to his relatives, but as of this writing he remains in detention without charge or trial.[195]  

The Saudi intelligence service in October 2008 detained a second blogger on Bawwabat al-Dhali’, Fahmi Ali Nasr in Jeddah, and transferred him to Yemen to the custody of the Political Security Organization, which subsequently released him. [196] Saudi security reportedly arrested a third blogger on Bawwabat al-Dhali’, Muhmmad al-Rabi’i, in Jeddah several months ago. He apparently remains in the custody of Saudi security.[197]

 

[145]Papers that whose distrubtion was suspended included Al-Ayyam, Al-Masdar, Al-Watani, Al-Diyar, Al-Mustaqilla, Al-Nida, Al-Shari’, and Al-Ahali newspapers. See also: ” Yemen: Halt Crackdowns on Newspapers,” Human Rights Watch news release, May 15, 2009, http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/05/15/yemen-halt-crackdowns-newspapers .

[146]Human Rights Watch interview with Samia al-Aghrabi, public freedoms officer, journalists’ syndicate, San’a, July 8, 2009, and with Sami Ghalib, editor-in-chief of Al-Nida’ weekly newspaper, San’a, July 8, 2009. According to both al-Aghrabi and Ghalib, a lawyer for the syndicate argued that the law gives the minister of information the power to suspend publications only for violation of their license, such as when a paper licensed as a weekly publishes daily, but not over the content.

[147]Human Rights Watch interview with Dr. Huda Alban, minister of human rights, San’a, July 19, 2009. A journalist said that the court had started to look into cases in late June or early July.

[148]Human Rights Watch report, Disappearances and Arbitrary Arrests in the Armed Conflict with Huthi Rebels in Yemen, October 2008, pp. 38-45.

[149]International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, art. 19.

[150]The text of the Johannesburg Principles is at http://www.article19.org/pdfs/standards/joburgprinciples.pdf/ 

[151]Republic of Yemen, Law No. 25 (1990) on the Press and Publications, December 22, 1990, arts 3-6.

[152]Ibid, art. 4.

[153]Law no 25 (1990) on Press and Publications, December 26, 1990, article 103 (b)-(d) prohibits the publication of “any secret document or information which might jeopardize the supreme interests of the country or expose any of its security or defense interests [and] anything which might cause tribal, sectarian, racial, regional or ancestral discrimination, or which might spread a spirit of dissent and division among the people [and] [a]nything which leads to the spread of ideas contrary to the principles of the Yemeni Revolution prejudicial to national unity or distorting the image of the Yemeni, Arab or Islamic heritage.”

[154]Ibid. arts. 104-106. In July 2008, the Specialized Criminal Court sentenced Abd al-Karim al-Khaiwani, a prominent journalist, to six years in prison for his 2007 critical writings on the war in northern Yemen between the Huthi rebels and government forces. Even al-Khaiwani’s own legal team couldn’t explain to Human Rights Watch what the precise charges against al-Khaiwani had been. President Saleh pardoned al-Khaiwani on September 25, 2008 and ordered his release.

[155]Article 107.

[156]Human Rights Watch interview with newspaper editor, place and date withheld.

[157]Human Rights Watch interview with newspaper editor, place and date withheld.

[158] According to the Bashraheel family, owners of the newspaper, on February 12, 2008, a group of men attempted to spray-paint an ownership claim on the San’a compound of Al-Ayyam, which also housed the family of the paper’s owners, stating “This house belongs to Shaikh Ahmad al-Habari.” According to the Bashraheels, Shaikh al-Habari was well-known for fraudulently claiming property, using his ties to the President to unlawfully seize properties. A gunfight erupted between the group of men and the compound’s security guards, leaving four of the spray-painters wounded, one of whom died. Following the shooting, a guard from Al-Ayyam, Ahmad ‘Umar al-‘Abbadi¸ was detained by the security forces and the family compound was surrounded by security forces, who demanded the Bashraheel family hand over a family member “hostage” for tribal mediation with the family of the killed man The case of the February 12 attack on Al-Ayyam continues to fester: the family of the dead man has threatened to revenge his death through a blood feud, and although President Ali Abdullah Saleh has repeatedly promised to intervene directly in the case, he has not done so to date. Instead, the authorities have continued to use the open case against Al-Ayyam’s owners to pressure them into toning down their reporting on the southern crisis. Human Rights Watch interview with Al-Ayyam owners, Aden, July 12, 2009.

[159]Human Rights Watch interview with Bashraheel Hisham Bashraheel.July 23, 2009. Unless otherwise noted all quotes and information related to Al-Ayyam are from this interview.

[160]Ibid.; Committee to Protect Journalists, “Government Seizes Newspaper Offices in Yemen,” May 4, 2009.

[161]Human Rights Watch meeting with newspaper editors, San’a, July 8, 2009; Human Rights Watch meeting with Al-Ayyam editors, Aden, July 11, 2009.

[162]Yemen: Police Raid Paper, Wound Three,” IFEX press release, May 13, 2009, http://www.ifex.org/yemen/2009/05/13/police_raid_al-ayyam/ (accessed November 2, 2009). A handwritten circular from the ministry of information orders the confiscation of all printed copies of five newspapers, Al-Masdar, Al-Watani, Al-Diyar, Al-Nida’, and Al-Shari’, signed by “General Press Director [مدير عام الصحافة],” on what appears to be May 4, 2009. Copy on file with Human Rights Watch. . . A lawyer for the journalists’ syndicate, argued that the ministry has no powers to suspend the publication of newspapers, though it could confiscate a specific issue that violated the Press and Publications Law, subject to judicial review and appeal. He considered that the law provides only for such suspensions in cases of a violation of the license, such as when a weekly newspaper publishes on a daily basis. No such administrative powers exist for content of a publication otherwise in compliance with the stipulations of its license.

[163]Committee to Protect Journalists, “CPJ Alarmed by Yemen Government’s newspaper censorship,” May 7, 2009 (translating President Saleh’s speech as quoted in the government newspaper Al-Thawra).

[164]Human Rights Watch meeting with newspaper editors, San’a, July 8, 2009; Human Rights Watch meeting with Al-Ayyam editors, Aden, July 11, 2009.

[165]Human Rights Watch interview with Sami Ghalib, editor-in-chief, Al-Nida, San’a, July 9, 2009.

[166]Committee to Protect Journalists, Letter to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, May 22, 2009.

[167]Yemen Times, July 12, 2009.

[168]“First Press and Printing Court Ruling Goes for al-Nida; Local and International Denounce Threats Targeting al-Jazeera Crew in Sana’a,” Yemen Post, August 2, 2009.

[169]Human Rights Watch interview with Samia al-Aghrabi, representative of Yemen Journalists Syndicate, San’a, July 8, 2009.

[170]Human Rights Watch interview with Sami Ghalib, editor-in-chief, Al-Nida newspaper, San’a, July 9, 2009.

[171]Human Rights Watch meeting with Al-Ayyam editors, Aden, July 11, 2009.

[172]Yemen Journalists Syndicate, Announcement, August 10, 2009.

[173]Ibid.

[174]Human Rights Watch interview with Gha’id Nasr Ali, Aden, July 10, 2009. The quote and information in the following paragraph is from this interview.

[175]Human Rights Watch interview with Wajdi al-Sha’bi, Aden, July 12, 2009.

[176]Human Rights Watch interview with Wajdi al-Sha’bi, Aden, July 12, 2009.

[177]Human Rights Watch interview with Wajdi al-Sha’bi, Aden, July 12, 2009.

[178]Article 19/IFEX, “Dark Days for Yemeni Media,” June 2, 2009.

[179]Ibn Alshibani, “One killed because the Occupation forces storming to one of the Hotels and Prevent Al-Jazeera crew to leave the Hotel,” South Arabia Times, July 7, 2009 http://sa-times.co.cc/breaking-news/one-killed-because-the-occupation-forces-storming-to-one-of-the-hotels-and-prevent-al-jazeera-crew-to-leave-the-hotel/ (accessed November 2, 2009).

[180]  “Months-long Assault on Media Continues,” IFEX news alert, June 24, 2009, http://www.ifex.org/yemen/2009/06/26/al-jazeera_attacked/ (accessed November 2, 2009), and: “New Targeting of One of Al Jazeera’s Journalists in Yemen,” Al Jazeera.net, June 23, 2009, http://www.Al Jazeera.net/NR/exeres/68F71DC6-C275-47EA-8BD3-FD13EBC4E625.htm (accessed October 29, 2009).

[181]“Yemeni Parliament (sic.) demanded to close al-Jazeera office in Sana’a,” Yemen Post, July 13, 2009.

[182]Reporters Without Borders, “Al-Jazeera Journalist Harassed and Threatened Over Coverage of Southern Unrests,” July 28, 2009; Arabic Network for Human Rights Information/IFEX, “Authorities Threaten to Close al-Jazeera Office,” July 16, 2009.

[183]Committee to Protect Journalists, “Al-Jazeera Bureau Chief Threatened in Yemen,” July 27, 2009.

[184]Article 19/IFEX, “Al-Jazeera Journalist Warned About Covering Southern Yemen,” April 20, 2009.

[185]Committee to Protect Journalists, “Al-Jazeera Bureau Chief Threatened in Yemen,” July 27, 2009.

[186]AdenGulf.Net, “Statement from AdenGulf.Net on the Editor’s Kidnapping,” June 19, 2009.

[187] CPJ, “Editors Detained, Special Court Established in Yemen,” May 12, 2009.

[188] Yemen Journalist Syndicate, “YJS condemns extraordinary actions against Rashid, Assaqdali,” July 5, 2009.

[189]Human Rights Watch interview with Forum for Dialogue activists, San’a, July 10, 2009.

[190]Committee to Protect Journalists, “Yemeni Web sites apparently blocked,” January 25, 2008.

[191]Committee to Protect Journalists, “Yemeni Web sites apparently blocked,” January 25, 2008.

[192]Rashad al-Shar’abi, China to the Rescue (of Internet Freedom in Yemen), MENASSAT, July 2, 2008.

[193]The kingdom got drawn into the northern Yemeni civil war in the 1960s and was an ideological nemesis of the PDRY’s Marxist outlook. However, in 1994, Saudi Arabia supported southern Yemen in the civil war, although it did not recognize its declaration of independence. (Kostiner, Yemen, p.95.)

[194]Human Rights Watch telephone interview with relative of Ali Shayif, July 13, 2009.

[195]Human Rights Watch telephone interview with relative of Ali Shayif, July 13, 2009.

[196]Ibid.

[197]Human Rights Watch interview with Samia al-Aghrabi, official of the Journalists’ Syndicate, San’a, July 9, 2009.