The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the assault on journalist Abdul Karim Al-Khaiwani who has been repeatedly harassed by the government for his critical views and was attacked last Monday by unknown assailants suspected of being security officers.
“Our colleague is being singled out and targeted in an attempt to stifle independent voices in the media,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “The Yemeni authorities must prove their commitment to free journalism and punish those responsible for this attack.”
Al-Khaiwani was set upon in broad daylight in the centre of Sana'a just after meeting with European Union officials, bundled into a car and taken to another destination where he was further beaten and had his papers and mobile confiscated. He was later released and treated for his injuries in hospital.
Al-Khaiwani has been targeted by Yemeni authorities in the past. In June he was detained on charges he was involved in terrorism. He was released on bail in July but he could face the death penalty if convicted of the charges.
In 2004, the IFJ protested a raid by police on the offices of the Al-Shoura newspaper and the detention of Al-Khaiwani, who was Al-Shoura’s editor-in-chief at the time.
The raid and detention followed a controversial court decision by judges in West Sana’a sentencing Al-Khaiwani to jail for a year and closing the paper for six months. Mr. Al-Khaiwani was convicted of defamation and then denied the right to appeal.
The IFJ sees the repeated attacks on Al-Khaiwani as part of an attempt to undermine freedom of press. The government has raided other media organisations and charged journalists with terrorism-related crimes.
“These attacks and harassment must stop immediately and the government must respect the right of freedom of expression and allow Abdul Karim to continue to report freely and maintain his independent voice in Yemen’s media,” White said.
For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries worldwide.