Reporters Without Borders

Soldiers overrun media company to suppress story about army raid on police station

Soldiers overrun media company to suppress story about army raid on police station

Published on Friday 23 April 2010.
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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)

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