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Yemen-based Iraqi journalist detained, interrogated for 10 hours on trumped-up charges

(ANHRI/IFEX) - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) denounces the prosecution of Nizar Al-Abadi, an Iraqi journalist who has been living in Yemen since 1991. ANHRI also condemns the actions of the public prosecutor, the press and publishers who are acting on behalf of the state security forces against journalists working within the law and the regulations of their profession.

Al-Abadi, the editor of the Naba news website ( ) , was summoned and interrogated for 10 hours on 28 October 2008. His detention and interrogation had been ordered by the chief of the state security police in Aden on a charge of running an illegal website. Though Al-Abadi was released on bail, the whole case appears to be nothing less than deliberate harassment aimed at blocking the website which is well known for its credibility and independence. ANHRI has noted that the Yemeni ministry of information and its union of journalists do not as yet recognize the electronic press media, and therefore do not license them, which makes the case unfounded and illegal.

The case arose after a news post on Al-Abadi's website about a dispute between the Taiz governor and the chief of the state security police. The latter has denied the news on the website, as has the Taiz governor. The case is no less than an example of the blatant harassment of journalists in the course of carrying out the professional duties to which they are committed.

Hamdy Al-Assiouti, a consultant for the Legal Aid Unit for Freedom of Expression at ANHRI, released a statement denouncing the prosecution and rejecting the case for Al-Abadi's arrest. The case is a fabrication by the political police in blatant violation of the freedom of expression and freedom of principle rights guaranteed by various international conventions. Once again, in this case ANHRI denounces the persecution of journalists by state security forces seeking favors from government officials and calls for the case against Al-Abadi to be dropped and for the Yemeni president to respect journalistic freedom and integrity.

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