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Journalist sentenced to three months in prison for insulting president

(ANHRI/IFEX) - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said that, on 16 January 2010, Yemen witnessed the sentencing for the first time of a female journalist to time in prison for insulting the president. In addition to being sentenced to a prison term of three months, Anisa Mohammed Ali Osman was suspended from writing for a year and Jamal Amer, editor of the "Al-Wasat" newspaper, was fined 10,000 Yemeni Rials (approx. US$50).

In 2007, Anisa Osman published two opinion articles in "Al-Wasat", while the Yemeni journalist Abdelkarim AlKhaiwani was in prison. One of the articles was written in solidarity with him. The Yemeni media ministry then initiated legal action against her and the court issued the harsh sentence against both Anisa Osman and Jamal Amer on 16 January.

Gamal Eid, ANHRI's executive director, said, " Such an initiative taken by the Yemeni government, becoming the first Arab country to convict a female writer for insulting the president, is indeed a shameful and rather ominous move that we wish to see discontinued."

The verdict against Anisa Osman came in the context of an unprecedented crackdown on the independent press, affecting dozens of journalists. In addition, the enforced disappearance of journalist Mohamed AlMaqaleh, editor of the Ishtraki e-forum, since September 2009 remains an unsolved mystery, to which Yemeni security has responded with indifference.
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