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Editor of independent newspaper faces three year jail sentence

(RSF/IFEX) - In a letter to Justice Minister Ismail Ahmed El Ouazir, RSF asked him to do everything in his power to have the charges against Hisham Basharahil, editor-in-chief of "Al Ayyam", dropped and to put an end to "this campaign against one of the representatives of the independent press". The organisation recalled that at the end of February, the courts had banned Jamal Amer of the opposition newspaper "Al Wahdawi" from working as a journalist for life. The ban, the first of its kind, was eventually cancelled following pressure from Yemeni journalists and international organisations for the defence of press freedom.

According to the information collected by RSF, Basharahil's trial started on 10 May before an Aden magistrates' court. The allegations against him include a telephone interview with Abu Al-Hamzai, who is believed by the Yemeni authorities to be responsible for terrorist acts in the country. In the interview, published in "Al-Ayyam" on 11 August 1999, Al-Hamzai criticised the trial of his son, who had been convicted of terrorism by a Yemeni court. The state prosecutor requested the closure of the Al-Ayyam Printing House for "inciting violence and terrorism". The journalist, who is due to appear in court on 31 May, faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

In August 1999 the journalist was given a six-month suspended sentence for "incitement to hatred among the sons of the same country". In an article published on 27 February 1999, "Al Ayyam" had criticised the fact that the country's southern provinces were governed mainly by politicians from the north.

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