News

October 28, 2021

Two journalists imprisoned in southern Yemen

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is concerned about the persecution of media personnel in the Aden region, in southern Yemen, where two journalists have been detained for the past several weeks with no reason being given and their families not knowing where they are held. They must be released at once, RSF says.

Ammar Makhshef, a freelance sports journalist was arrested when members of the security forces went to his home in Aden on 7 October and took him away without giving any explanation. His family has had no news of him since then.


Raafat Rashad, a journalist who runs two local radio stations, Bandar Aden and Adania, was arrested a week before that. His family said armed men attached to the Southern Transitional Council (STC), which controls the region, went to the radio stations and, on discovering he was not there, ordered employees to tell him to report to security headquarters. Rashad went to security headquarters on 30 September in response to the summons and never emerged.


Two weeks later, sources close to the STC confirmed that that a warrant had been issued for Rashad’s arrest and that he had been placed in a detention centre, but they did not say which one, so his family has not been able to visit him. The family also said they were told that the authorities were preparing to free him and then changed their minds.


A third journalist was nearly arrested. Armed men went to freelance journalist Mustafa Al-Mansouri’s home on 12 October with the aim of arresting him, but he was not there.


“We call on Aden’s authorities to release the two journalists on the grounds of respect for press freedom, which the Southern Transitional Council claims to defend,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “Their arrests are part of a very worrying increase in acts of intimidation of journalists in the province that has continued for several months.”


Harassment of journalists has also been reported recently in regions of Yemen under the control of other authorities. In Sanaa (which is under Houthi control) Abdulrahman Al-Ghabry, a photographer and producer, was detained on 29 September and then released, while in Hadramout, which is controlled by the internationally recognised government, members of the security forces raided the home of Almandebnews website editor Osama Bin Fayed on 23 October. 


The STC did not respond to RSF’s messages.


Yemen is ranked 169th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.