Shortly after armed men stopped Hala Fuad Badawi as she was driving her car on 30 December, she managed to post a brief message on Facebook – where she has more than 8,500 followers – reporting that she was being interrogated at intelligence headquarters and that her bag and mobile phone had been confiscated.
The day before her arrest, she posted an account of a phone call with one of her sources about the allegations of corruption that have been levelled against the director of the education ministry bureau in Hadramaout.
She is now being held in the main prison in Mukalla, Hadramaout’s capital.
According to a “security source” whose statement was broadcast by Mukalla Radio, examination of Badawi’s mobile phone yielded “compelling and firm evidence” of her involvement in “a terrorist cell.”
At the Badawi family’s request, a demonstration was held in Mukalla yesterday to show support for the detained journalist and to urge the authorities to respect the “rule of law.” Her sister says she still hasn’t been allowed to visit her.
“We call for the immediate release of the journalist Hala Fuad Badawi,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “The serious accusations of involvement in terrorism are clearly fabricated and nothing more than a crude and disgraceful pretext for silencing this journalist and anyone else who denounces corruption in the ruling elite.”
Three journalists – Mohamed Al-Sharfi, Sabri bin Makhashin and Mohamed Al-Yazidi – who fled Hadramout when it was under Al Qaeda control and who continue to report on developments in the province from abroad were the targets of a death threat by a Hadramout military official in September because they have been covering cases of corruption there.
RSF tried to reach Hadramout governor Farag Al-Bahsani but he did not respond.
Yemen is ranked 169th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.