Update June 4: On June 4, the YJS and Balqees TV reached an agreement that the TV will pay an appropriate compensation for Al-rajhi, the union and the IFJ thanked the management for their cooperation and announced that the case has been settled. Turkey authorities did not respond to the call to investigate the violence and forced confession the journalist faced while in detention.
Al-rajhi worked for Belqees TV, owned by the Yemeni Nobel Peace Laureate Tawakkol Karman, in the Yemeni capital Sana until 2015, when the TV offices were ransacked by the Houthis during their violent takeover of the city that year. He fled with the rest of the team to Istanbul, where they established the TV headquarters.
According to the YJS, Al-rajhi was subjected to physical violence during his detention in Turkey in January 2020. The journalist told the union that he was beaten and forced by security forces to confess in front of a camera that he was collaborating with the authorities of Saudi Arabia and the UAE and sending them information about the Moslem Brotherhood in Turkey.
He was held for 15 days in three different police and security facilities in Istanbul.
Al-rajhi has been living in Egypt since February 2020 and he’s receiving medical treatment. The YJS said it has been in contact with the management of Belqees TV for over a year seeking compensation for the journalist for his services to the organization and his physical injuries and financial losses resulting from his work for them. All these efforts were in vain.
Belqees TV claimed that they paid the journalist his end of service allowance following his voluntary resignation. However, the YJS says that this payment was calculated following the Yemeni law, a condition that does not apply to Al-rajhi’s case as he’s forced to live in exile and can’t return to his home in Yemen.
IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “We are calling on the authorities in Turkey to investigate the serious violations of our colleague’s rights and hold accountable those responsible for his mistreatment. We also condemn the employer’s failure to pay him appropriate compensation, including the coverage of medical costs. It must take action urgently.”