Soldiers stormed the building of 14 October, a national media company based in Al-Ma’ala, in the southern province of Aden, on the evening of 21 April in order to seize the latest issue of Al-Tariq, a daily newspaper it publishes. The building remained surrounded until yesterday morning.
“What happens in Yemen is hallucinating,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Not a day goes by without a news media being attacked or a journalist being kidnapped, arrested or convicted.” The raid in Al-Ma’ala took place just as President Ali Abdallah Saleh was ordering the release of three executives of Al-Ayyam, a daily newspaper based in the city of Aden.
The soldiers who overran the 14 October building searched all the vehicles parked outside, including that of publisher and chairman Ahmed Al-Hubaish, in order to confiscate that day’s issue of Al-Tariq, which had a story about a raid by soldiers on a police station the previous afternoon in the nearby town of Al-Tawahi.
According to Al-Tariq’s report, the raid on the police station was probably an act of revenge for a dispute between a police and a soldier during an operation to remove illegally-built homes on a hillside outside Al-Tawahi. The newspaper also offered the alternative theory that is was prompted by an argument between a soldier and a policeman in the town’s market (http://www.attariq-ye.com/).
Al-Tariq’s office in Al-Tawahi was seized by the army on 21 February because the newspaper had referred to the situation in south Yemen as an “occupation.” As a result, it had to suspend operations for two weeks.
The three senior members of Al-Ayyam’s staff whose release was ordered by the president were journalist Hani Bashraheel, who edits the sports edition, director Mohamed Bashraheel, and secretary-general Arhab Hassan Yassine. They were arrested during an army raid on the newspaper’s headquarters in early January (http://en.rsf.org/yemen-arrest-of-editor-in-chief-of-al-08-01-2010,35675.html).
Hisham Bashraheel, the newspaper’s founder and owner, who had been arrested at the same time, was released on 24 March on medical grounds (http://en.rsf.org/yemen-two-journalists-freed-on-health-25-03-2010,36836.html).
The press freedom situation in Yemen has been worsening steadily since May 2009. (Read the latest report: http://en.rsf.org/yemen-yemeni-media-and-journalists-20-04-2010,37080.html)