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Journalist beaten and tortured in prison

(ANHRI/IFEX) - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) strongly condemns the Yemeni government's repeated attacks on freedom of expression, and stresses its concern for the deterioration of freedoms in the country after the wife of journalist Salah Al Saqladi revealed that her husband was subjected to beatings and torture in prison, asserting that he was left hanging from the ceiling of his cell for four days.

ANHRI is deeply concerned over the continued detention of several Yemeni journalists and activists and calls on the government to respect rights and freedoms, especially the right to freedom of expression as well as the right of people to be informed. This is particularly important when the information relates to issues that are of concern for all Yemenis, such as the clashes in Sa'ada and the calls for secession of the south.

ANHRI executive director Gamal Eid said, "The first part of the problem is the violation of the rights of these journalists and writers to express their opinions and do their jobs, the second part is that the Yemeni authorities are not only harassing journalists but also violating people's right to be informed, particularly with the carefully planned media blackout on the current clashes with 'Huthis' and on the problems in the south, along with the mounting demands for secession".

A number of southern journalists and activists started reporting to news sites that are based abroad in an attempt to break the blackout imposed on the practices of the Sana'a government in the south. The blackout was put in place in order to conceal the Sana'a government's crimes from international attention.

Journalist and human rights defender Al Saqladi was arrested on 18 June 2009 and was held in solitary confinement after writing articles criticising the Yemeni authorities and reporting on repeated violations of human rights, particularly in southern Yemen.

Authorities also detained journalist Mohamed Al Maqaleh in September and refuse to disclose his whereabouts or any other information about him. Al Maqaleh is a member of the Central Committee of the Socialist Party and is the party's website administrator.

Journalist Fouad Rashed, the editor of the "Al-Mukalla Press", was arrested in May and it is not currently known where he is being held. On 23 June, the authorities transferred him to the political security prison in Sana'a.

In July, security force personnel attacked an "Al-Manar" television station correspondent and crew and confiscated their camera as they were filming refugee camps. There have also been repeated incidents of abuse and shooting at the residence of Mohammed Saeed Al-Sharabi, a reporter for "Al-Diyar" newspaper.
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