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AL-KHAIWANI PARDONED AGAIN

IFEX members the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have expressed relief that the Yemeni President has again pardoned outspoken journalist Abdul Karim al-Khaiwani.

The President had already pardoned al-Khaiwani in September 2008 after he was sentenced to six years in jail for supporting an alleged terrorist group. But a special terrorism court re-imposed the sentence on 26 January.

Al-Khaiwani, former editor-in-chief of the opposition paper "Al Shoura" and editor of the website al-Shoura.net, has repeatedly been targeted for his work. Last year, he was prevented from travelling to London to receive Amnesty International's prestigious human rights media award. IFJ was able to present the award to al-Khaiwani during the congress of the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate in Sana'a this month.

At the opening session of the congress on 14 March, President Ali Abdullah Saleh confirmed his pardon and announced that the charges would be dropped and the case closed. Saleh also said broadcasting in Yemen will be opened up to independent media.

In receiving the award in front of a rapturous audience of several hundred journalists, al- Khaiwani said, "I want to emphasise here that this award... is also recognition for Yemeni journalism and Yemeni journalists. I thank Amnesty International for granting me this award which will support press freedom in Yemen. It also sends a message to Yemeni journalists that they are not alone in the face of authoritarianism, corruption and violation of human rights."

Visit these links:
- IFJ: http://tinyurl.com/df2k4w
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30243
- IFEX Yemen page: http://tinyurl.com/bq8a2b
(Photo: IFJ President Jim Boumelha presents Amnesty International's special human rights award to Abdul Kharim al-Khaiwani during a congress of Yemeni journalists in Sana'a this month)

(25 March 2009)

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