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Yemeni editor charged with instigating "sectarian feuds"


**Updates IFEX alerts of 11 May and 10 March 2000**

(CPJ/IFEX) - The following is a 15 May 2000 CPJ press release:

Yemeni Editor Charged With Instigating "Sectarian Feuds"

New York, May 15, 2000 -- The editor of a leading Yemeni newspaper has been charged for the second time in a week with violating tough criminal laws that are often used to punish free expression, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has learned. Hisham Basharaheel, editor of the thrice-weekly, Aden-based Al-Ayyam, was charged today in the Seera Court of First Instance, along with reporter Hassan Ben Hassainoun, with instigating "sectarian feuds," and "the spirit of separatism."


The charges stem in part from a February 7 article by Hassainoun, titled "The Properties of Religious Sects and Social Peace." The article criticized authorities for their neglect and demolition of historical sites in Yemen. Specifically, it attacked the government for demolishing a 19th century synagogue in Aden.

Yemeni authorities summoned Basharaheel for questioning in March, but did not charge him at that time. Today's charges carry a penalty of up to two years in prison.

On May 10, the same court charged Basharaheel with a multitude of offenses including publishing "false information," "instigating the use of force and terrorism," and "insulting public institutions" because he published an interview with the London-based Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri on August 11, 1999. In the interview, al-Masri attacked the Yemeni court that had recently convicted his son Muhammad of terrorism.

A translation of the interview can be found on CPJ's Web site at www.cpj.org.

The charges brought on May 10 carry a penalty of up to three years imprisonment. The state prosecutor also requested the indefinite closure of the Al-Ayyam Printing House, which would effectively shut down the newspaper.

"These prosecutions can only be viewed as a flagrant attempt to silence and intimidate journalists in violation of international press freedom standards," said CPJ's Executive Director Ann K. Cooper. "It's time for the government to back up its rhetoric about respect for press freedom with concrete action to halt this judicial harassment."

Both cases have been adjourned until May 31.

CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom around the world. For detailed accounts about attacks on the press world-wide, visit CPJ's web-site: .


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