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Presidential pardon on 20th anniversary of country's reunification

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders welcomes President Ali Abdullah Saleh's decision on 22 May, the 20th anniversary of the reunification of North and South Yemen, to pardon imprisoned journalists and journalists being prosecuted.

"Our criticism of the worsening situation for the media and the many prosecutions of journalists has finally resulted in a positive reaction from the authorities," Reporters Without Borders said. "We nonetheless point out that several trials are underway against journalists and newspapers such as 'Al-Masdar', 'Al-Nida', 'Hadith Al-Madena' and 'Al-Tajamu'."

The president's decision to pardon journalists being prosecuted or those convicted on non-criminal charges was announced at a reunification anniversary ceremony in Taez province (230 km south of Sanaa) by the province's governor, Hammoud Khaled Al-Soufi, who said the pardon was subject to their "putting their pens in the service of their country and helping to consolidate national unity."

Hossein Al-Leswas, a journalist who was given a one-year jail sentence on 2 May, was released from Sanaa's main prison on 24 May under the pardon.

On 21 May, the eve of the pardon announcement, the authorities suspended judicial proceedings against Mohamed Al-Maqalih, the editor of the opposition Socialist Party's news website, Al-Eshteraki, who has been outspoken in his criticism of President Saleh's government.

Reporters Without Borders has learned that the trial of Fouad Rashed, the editor of the Al-Mukallah Press website, Salah Al-Saqladi, the editor of the Adengulf website, and Ahmed Al-Rabizi, an activist, was postponed from 24 to 30 May, possibly so that they could benefit from the presidential pardon as well.

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