Yemen: Houthi authorities seize Yemen Digital Media offices and deny journalists access

Houthi forces, the de facto government in Sana, sealed the offices of Yemen Digital Media, a private media services provider on 25 April, preventing journalists and staff from entering.

Mohammed HUWAIS / AFP

They claimed to be serving a court ruling which appointed a legal guardian to manage the company. The IFJ joins the Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate in condemning the use of bogus legal procedures to cover its illegal confiscation of a private media company.

 According to YJS, Houthi forces sealed the offices of the company on Sunday 25 April and appointed a legal guardian to manage the relations with its customers. It also appointed new security guards after preventing employees from entering the offices. Yemen Digital Media is one of the biggest media services companies in Yemen. It employs 35 staff including 15 journalists and it provides media services to major international networks including BBC Arabic, Aljazeera, Russia Today, Al Hurra and many others from its offices covering the country.

The closure came a day after a court is Sana charged Taha Almamary, a Yemeni journalist and the executive director of the company, of crimes against state security and espionage. The YJS said that the charges brought against Almamary are baseless and the court proceedings are a mockery of the law, since it all happened in secret without informing him, the company or any relevant party.

Almamary, who has been living outside Yemen since 2015, said the charges against him do not make any sense and that those behind this operation are only interested in confiscating the company to run it or shut it down so they become the only media service providers in Sana through the companies they own and control.

“The de facto government in Sana is fully responsible for this use of bogus legal procedures to cover up an armed robbery and must stop it.” said Anthony Bellanger, IFJ General Secretary. “We urge all international media to stop using the services of the companies owned or controlled by Houthis in Sana until Yemen Digital Media is returned to its rightful owner and our colleagues are able to return to work, otherwise they will be complicit in this thuggish behavior.”