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Journalist arrested; authorities seize copies of seven independent newspapers

(ANHRI/IFEX) - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) strongly condemns the action taken by Yemeni authorities against several independent newspapers and journalists. The latest action was the confiscation of seven newspapers in two days and the arrest of journalist Fuad Rashid, the owner and publisher of The confiscation orders follow the papers' coverage of protests in southern Yemen and criticism of the way the Yemeni government responded to the problems.

Yemeni security forces have confiscated more than 15,000 copies of "Al Masdar" newspaper and 50,000 copies of "Al Ayyam" newspaper. Moreover, printing houses have stopped printing six newspapers after an order was issued by the general manager of press affairs at the information ministry. The newspapers affected by the printing ban are: "Al Masdar", "Al Ayyam", "Addiyar", "Al Nedaa", "Al Sharee" and "Al Mostaqella". Copies of the papers were also seized from distribution outlets and kiosks. Though "Al Ayyam" newspaper was not named in the ban, police confiscated it, surrounded the paper's headquarters in the city of Aden, and randomly opened fire to terrorize journalists.

In a separate incident, on the evening of 4 May, security officers arrested Fuad Rashid, the owner and publisher of the Al-Mukalla Press website, who lives in the city of Mukalla, in Hadramoot province, and took him to an unknown location.

The police campaign against the Yemeni press and journalists came a few days after President Ali Abdullah Saleh voiced his anger over what he described as "the separatists of the south."

"Shame on the Yemeni government for taking advantage of world preoccupation with the current swine flu crisis to suppress press freedoms and confiscate newspapers," ANHRI said. "The only solution to the problems of the South is through dialogue and addressing the origin of the problems, not through muzzling the press and terrorizing journalists," ANHRI added.

ANHRI strongly condemns the confiscation and prosecution approach adopted by the government against the press and journalists in Yemen. The network calls on the government to immediately stop such policies as they are deeply detrimental to Yemen and the Yemeni government and rank the country among those most hostile to freedom of expression and the press.

Updates the "Al Ayyam" case:

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