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Two publications censored, website blocked

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is worried about a series of blows to press freedom in Yemen. The authorities banned distribution of the monthly "Abwab" and the weekly "Al-Sabbah" on 14 March 2008. The website http://www.aleshteraki.net , the press mouthpiece of the main opposition party, has been inaccessible since 12 March. At the same time, the daily "Al-Sharea", its editor, Nayef Hassan, and freelance journalist Abdulkarim Al-Khaiwani are being prosecuted for disseminating reports "liable to undermine army morale."

"The political tension should not be used as grounds for restricting press freedom," Reporters Without Borders said. "The government should allow dissident voices to be heard and should ensure respect for diversity of views. It is essential that these decisions are rescinded at once and that 'Al-Sharea''s journalists are guaranteed due process."

The information ministry banned distribution of "Al-Sabbah" for its alleged failure to respect legal procedures when it was created. It is very critical of the government. The first issue of "Abwab", which was printed in Dubai, in United Arab Emirates, was seized on arrival at Sanaa airport. The magazine's editor said the cover, which showed President Ali Abdallah Al-Saleh, was deemed to be disrespectful to the president. The authorities have not explained why access to the website of the opposition Yemeni Socialist Party, www.aleshteraki.net, has been blocked.

The correspondents of the pan-Arab satellite TV stations Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya have been subject to harassment and intimidation by the police since July 2007. Several journalists such as Hassan and Khaiwani are being prosecuted by military courts because of reports deemed "liable to undermine army morale," for which they face a possible death penalty.

Click here: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=25311 to read the chapter on Yemen in the 2008 annual report on press freedom worldwide, which Reporters Without Borders issued on 13 February.

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