The International Federation of Journalists today called on the Yemeni authorities to release a local reporter following a court sentence, which the Federation described as “punitive and absurd”.
On 13 April, Saeed Thabet, a correspondent for Kuds Press was handed down a court order in which he was ordered to stop all journalistic activity for six months in a verdict issued by the western court of Sana'a.
“This sentence is an attempt to gag a journalist and to stifle free expression,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “It is an absurd and undemocratic response to an issue which should be resolved through professional reflection”.
Saeed Thabet, who is also a member of the Yemen Journalists Syndicate (YJS) board, was arrested after publishing a news report about an alleged assassination attempt against President Saleh's son, Ahmed. Denied by governmental sources, the rumour had been published by Thabet's agency as by many other news agencies. According to YJS chairman Mahboob Ali, the verdict contradicts the initial findings and facts examined by the court in its previous sessions.
The IFJ is supporting its newly appointed affiliate, the YJS and has addressed a letter of protest to Yemen's Prime Minister, Abdul-Qader Bagammal.
“Issues like this should be resolved through dialogue, discussion and self-regulation and not made the subject of judicial action,” said White.
The IFJ is calling on Yemeni authorities to repeal the court decision against Saeed Thabet and ensure that he is allowed to return to his professional activities as soon as possible.
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries