IFJ Calls on Yemeni President to End Intimidation of Independent Journalism and Media

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called upon Yemeni President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to intervene to defend journalists and independent media in the wake of deteriorating conditions for press freedom in the country.

The IFJ and its affiliate, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS), are particularly concerned about the trial of journalist, Abdel Karim Al Khaiwani, charged with being a member of a terrorist network. The trial has just completed and a verdict is due to be announced in two weeks.

The prosecution failed to establish that Al Khaiwani had direct contacts with a Zaidi Islamist leader. Furthermore, the photographs he received from him through an associate, were necessary for his work as a professional journalist. The Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate fear that Al Khaiwani, a well-known and respected professional journalist, has been chosen as a scapegoat to intimidate those in media who are critical of the government.

“For democracy to thrive in Yemen you must ensure free media and an independent judiciary”, says Aidan White, Secretary General of the IFJ in his letter to President Saleh. The IFJ warns that recent actions compromise these two pillars of democracy, noting that the Ministry of Information decision to cancel the license of Al-Wasat newspaper “sets a dangerous precedent for violations of the Yemen Constitution with regard to media work.”

The IFJ has also taken up the case of the opposition news website Aleshtaraki.net, which has been blocked by the government for the fourth time this year. The web-site should be allowed to function freely and other obstacles to media freedom should be removed says the IFJ in its appeal to President Saleh. “This censorship,” says White, is “part of a coordinated policy of intimidation and attacks on independent and opposition media work.”

For more information contact the IFJ at + 32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide