14 journalists detained in Yemen, 13 of them held hostage by rebel groups
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is extremely concerned about the many Yemeni journalists currently detained in different parts of Yemen and calls for their immediate release. At least 14 Yemeni journalists are held, 13 of them by rebel groups.
They include Kamel Almamari, the Al-Kawthar TV and Radio Tehran correspondent in the capital, Sanaa, who was abducted exactly seven months ago today, on 20 June, by the Houthi rebels that control Sanaa. Held in Sanaa’s security prison, he is accused of “communicating with foreign countries.” Like him, at least 11 other journalists are currently held by the Houthis.
Four of them – Abdul-Khaliq Amran, Tawfiq Al-Mansouri, Akram Al-Walidi and Hareth Homaid – were sentenced to death in April 2020. They have been held since 2015, when the Houthis abducted them while they were working for media outlets close to the Islah Party, itself linked to the internationally recognised government that is at war with the Shia Houthis. They have been waiting in vain for months for the local authorities to overturn their death sentences.
Al Qaeda is also holding a journalist hostage. He is Mohamed Al-Moqri, who has been missing ever since his abduction in October 2015 in the eastern province of Hadramout.
“It is unacceptable that so many journalists continue to be hostages of a war to which they are not party,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “On the one hand, the Houthis continue to hold journalists captive in order to use them as bargaining chips with the other parties to the conflict. On the other, the government recognised by the international community uses all sorts of trumped-up pretexts worthy of authoritarian regimes to silence journalists who expose corruption. In both cases, journalists must be given back the freedom they should never have lost.”
The internationally recognised authorities and the Southern Transitional Council (STC), which controls the southern province of Yemen, have carried out many searches and arrests of journalists in recent weeks, especially those who shed light on corruption.
They include Hala Fuad, a freelance journalist held since December in Hadramout’s capital, Mukalla, which is controlled by the internationally recognised government. She is being held on a trumped-up charge of “involvement in a terrorist cell.” Even journalists who have fled abroad are subjected to social media attacks and death threats, as seen last September when three journalists from Hadramout now living in self-imposed exile were verbally threatened by a Hadramout military official.
Yemen is ranked 169th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.