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Al-Arabiya satellite television station journalists prevented from covering social unrest

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF calls on the authorities to stop harassing journalists working for the Dubai-based satellite television station Al-Arabiya. Two of the station's journalists have been detained in the past three weeks after covering anti-government demonstrations.

"This is not the first time that journalists trying to report on popular discontent have been prevented from working by the police," RSF said. "The authorities target the press in order to suppress accusations of corruption and news about the demands of angry demonstrators. These incidents confirm that the press freedom situation is continuing to worsen in Yemen."

Al-Arabiya correspondent Hammoud Mounasser was detained and questioned for an hour and a half on 18 November 2007 at a checkpoint on the road from Sanaa to Khamer (80 km from the capital), where around 10,000 demonstrators had gathered to protest against the government's economic policies and the lack of infrastructure. Mounasser's videotape was confiscated.

Criticising the "hypersensitivity of the authorities towards TV journalists," Mounasser said he had been subjected to a great deal of harassment from the security services in connection with his coverage of social unrest. "They threatened to close our offices in Sanaa if our reports were broadcast," he added.

On 30 October, Al-Arabiya cameraman Moujib Moussaileh was detained for two hours and roughed up by police after covering a strike by workers at a Sanaa textile plant.

Videotape footage has been confiscated from Al-Arabiya reporters 14 times since 2003. Journalists with several news media were arrested and roughed up by police in 2005 after covering protests against a fuel price increase.

Yemen was ranked 143rd out of 169 countries in the world press freedom index published by RSF last month.

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