Death threat by Yemeni official against three journalists who fled abroad
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the authorities in Hadramout governorate, in eastern Yemen, to guarantee the safety of three Yemeni freelance journalists who fled the country in 2015 to avoid abduction by Al-Qaeda and who are now the targets of a death threat by a governorate official because they have been denouncing corruption in the province.
On 30 August, the photos of the three journalists – Mohamed Bou Salih Al-Sharafi, Sabri bin Makhashin and Mohammed Abdulwahhab Al-Yazidi – were posted by a Hadramout military official on a Facebook group with more than 34,000 members along with a call for them to be killed. “A single bullet is worth more than a mercenary who betrays his country,” the message said.
The message alludes to their many social media posts exposing corruption involving the province’s leaders. The three journalists, who are all originally from Hadramout, have been the targets of a hate campaign for almost a year as a result of their posts – a campaign now culminating in this call for their elimination.
Al-Sharfi, who is now based in Jordan, told RSF that he has on many occasions in recent months posted photos of documents showing overbilling, irregular commissions and unexplained tax hikes implicating Hadramout governorate officials. At one point, the security services issued an unofficial arrest warrant for the journalists.
RSF contacted the Hadramout authorities concerned but they did not respond to our questions.
“We firmly condemn these threats against independent journalists,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “Those regarded as the legitimate authorities must treat media professionals in an exemplary manner, and not contribute to degrading their working environment so that it is unthinkable for them to return to their country.”
The three journalists only narrowly avoided abduction by Al-Qaeda in 2015. Another journalist, Mohamed Al-Moqri, was not so lucky. He has been missing ever since his abduction in October 2015.
Yemen is ranked 169th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.