IFJ Accuses Yemen of "Brutal Inhumanity" as Outrage Grows over Abuse of Jailed Editor

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today accused the Yemeni authorities of

"brutal inhumanity" in their treatment of a leading editor who has been subject

to kidnapping, detention and denial of access to basic medical treatment for

six months.

"The ordeal of Mohammed al

Maqaleh is a scandalous story of neglect and brutal inhumanity," said Aidan

White, IFJ General Secretary. "We fully support our colleagues in the Yemen who

demand his immediate release and an end to all the violations of his rights."

The IFJ is backing protest

by the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS), an IFJ affiliate over the case and

has written to the country's President

Ali Abdullah Saleh, calling for an investigation of how the authorities have handled this

case and for those responsible for al Maqaleh's maltreatment to be brought to


Al Maqaleh is the editor

for the opposition Socialist Party's website, Al Eshteraki.  He was kidnapped in September after the news

site reported on Yemeni military air strikes targeting civilians in an incident

that killed 87 people and injured more than a hundred.

He was snatched

by gunmen on the streets of the capital Sana'a and since then has been subject

to systematic abuse. For months security agencies as well as the Attorney General

repeatedly denied knowledge of his fate, until official agencies revealed his

abduction and transferred him to prison and to be charged with criminal charges

on 30 January, 2010.


union says that during his disappearance he has been subjected to systematic

psychological and physical abuse. He suffered three simulated executions, his

captors fired guns close to him, he has been beaten, denied food and drink for

days, and finally put blindfolded in a dark, secluded area outside the capital Sana.


the latter to President Saleh, White and IFJ President Jim Boumelha accused the

authorities of "bringing shame to the country" by a process of abuse that has

also included psychological torture of his family who have been sent mixed

messages about his fate by officials.

The IFJ says

there have been dozens of instances in which plain clothes security officers

have snatched journalists off the street. There have been many reports of

severe beatings, sexual assaults, threats to family, whipping and other forms

of violence used again prisoners and kidnap victims in Yemen.  Mohamed al Maqaleh is the latest victim of

such treatment.

The targeting of journalists and suppression of newspapers and web sites has

taken place at a time when the government is anxious not to have critical

coverage of the ongoing Sa'ada War.


The syndicate has announced plans to organise protest

activities next Monday to coincide with the day of the Yemeni press. Protests

will focus on the cases of Al-Maqaleh and Al-Yawm newspaper, and jailed

journalists Fouad Rashid, Salah Al-Saqaladi as well as that of Al-Raboui who

was assassinated on 9 February.


syndicate has been calling for the Attorney General to put a stop to the

mistreatment of Al-Maqaleh and to allow him access to medication due to his

deteriorating health. But court officials have continued his criminal

prosecution, despite evidence of crimes of abduction and reliance on charges

that the defence says are trumped up. A hearing last Saturday had to be

postponed due to his failing health.


the trial, prosecutors alleged in the indictment, that the arrest was ordered

by them, while the Attorney General had assured the syndicate in the early days

of the kidnapping of Al-Maqaleh that he did not issue any arrest warrant

against him.

"The anger of

Yemeni journalists at the treatment of Mohamed Al-Maqaleh and

others is understandable," said White. "Now the international community must

raise their voices in this case to highlight the horrific abuse of journalists

and intellectuals in the country."

For more information contact the IFJ at

  +32 2 235 2207

The IFJ represents

over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide