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CPJ protests ongoing detention of journalists

(CPJ/IFEX) - In a 3 July 2002 letter to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, CPJ protested the ongoing detention of free-lance journalists Ibrahim Hussein and Abdel Rahim Mohsen.

On 21 June, plainclothes police officers arrested Hussein at the office of the Yemeni Unionist Party, according to CPJ sources. Mohsen was arrested at his home on 23 May.

The two men have been held incommunicado since their arrests and were only allowed to meet with their lawyers on Monday 1 July, at the office of a state prosecutor in charge of handling press cases.

According to Jamal al-Jaabi, the journalists' lawyer, the two were charged in 2 July in a court in the capital, Sana'a, with "harming national unity" and "inciting racial, sectarian, or tribal discrimination", a violation of Article 103 of the Press Law.

However, al-Jaabi was not present at the hearing because he was never notified of the proceedings, he told CPJ.

If convicted, the journalists each face up to one year in prison. The case is adjourned until 7 July.

The charges against the journalists stem from several newspaper articles they have written during the last several months. According to al-Jaabi, at the 1 July meeting, the prosecutor displayed files containing dozens of articles published in the weekly newspapers "Al Osboa" and "Al-Thawri", including some that criticized alleged government corruption, human rights abuses, and restrictions on civil liberties.

CPJ believes that journalists should never be jailed for what they write. Over the years, Yemeni courts have continued to punish independent and opposition media by arresting and criminally prosecuting journalists under the country's Press Law and Penal Code.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to the president:
- noting that, in your opinion, journalists should never be jailed for what they write
- calling on him to do everything within his power to ensure that Hussein and Mohsen are released immediately and that the charges against them are dropped
- urging him to work toward repealing statutes in the Press Law and the Penal Code that allow journalists to be criminally prosecuted and jailed

Appeals To

His Excellency President Ali Abdullah Saleh
C/o His Excellency Ambassador Abdul Wahab al-Hajjri
Embassy of the Republic of Yemen
2600 Virginia Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037
Fax: +202 337 2017

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

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