The four journalists, Abdul Khaleq Amran, Akram Al-Walidi, Hareth Hamed and Tawfiq Al-Mansouri, were part of a group of ten journalists who were tried on 11 April on charges of spying on behalf of Saudi Arabia. Neither their families nor their lawyers were notified about the trial.
The court convicted them of “creating and secretly running several websites and pages through the Internet and social networks (...) in which they posted false, malicious and disturbing news, information and rumours.”
“These utterly unacceptable convictions are worthy of a bygone era and must be overturned without delay,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “The death sentences are typical of the way the Houthi rebels have systematically persecuted journalists, and are indicative of a readiness to use summary justice to settle scores with all critical media. Neither the sentences nor the arbitrary detention of all ten journalists since 2015 can be justified. They must be freed.”
The other six journalists who were tried at the same time (and who have also been held since 2015) are Esam Belghaith, Hassan Annab, Hisham Tarmoum, Hisham Al-Yousfi, Haitham Al-Shehab and Salah Al-Qaedi.
All ten worked for media outlets regarded as supportive of Al-Islah, a party with Muslim Brotherhood links that, in 2015, declared its support for the Yemeni government recognized by the international community and for the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that has intervened militarily in Yemen.
The Houthis claim to have found detailed plans for military operations in the journalists’ electronic devices.
Yemen is ranked 167th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.