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Security forces detain cartoonist who witnessed journalist's arrest

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 23 August 2010 - The Arabic Network for Human rights Information (ANHRI) denounced today that a few days ago the Yemeni National Security Authority detained Kamal Sharaf, a cartoonist for the state-owned "Gumhouria" newspaper and one of the main founders of the Bensberkom campaign against corruption in Yemen. Abd AlElah Haidar, a friend of Sharaf's and a journalist specializing in alQaeda affairs, was also detained. Haidar was earlier abducted before his arrest.

On 16 August 2010, National Security forces raided the district where Sharaf and Haidar live. The whole area was cordoned off and security personnel broke into Haidar's house and seized his laptop and papers. They abducted Haidar and fired shots into the air to terrify his family. The reason for Haidar's arrest is not yet known.

On the following day, they arrested Sharaf, the cartoonist and human rights activist. Sharaf was recently awarded for his work on women's rights. He has also launched a campaign against corruption and for the defense of human rights in Yemen. He is a very active member on Facebook.

Previously, on 11 July, Haidar was stopped by unknown individuals who escorted him forcibly to an undisclosed location after blindfolding him. They questioned him for hours about his media coverage and news about alQaeda. Sharaf was the only witness to this incident and was the one to report it.

ANHRI urges the Public Prosecutor's Office to clearly state the reasons for the arrests of both Haidar and Sharaf. Thus far, the prosecution has simply declared that they were both detained based on a prosecution order.

The detainees' families, their lawyers and a group of human rights organizations in Yemen called on the prosecution to announce where Haidar and Sharaf are being held, as well as to provide the reasons for the detention and to allow visitors. They also urged the authorities to release the two men. In response, the prosecution announced that they being held at the national security jail, but failed to respond to the other requests.

ANHRI urged the public prosecutor to investigate the fact that Haidar and Sharaf are being held in custody beyond the legal period, in violation of the Yemeni Constitution and international treaties.

ANHRI said that the Yemeni government should put an end to human rights abuses by the national security forces, including the abuse of the right to free expression, and ensure that Haidar and Sharaf are immediately released. If the government is truly concerned about safety in the country, they should take positive steps to end the tension between all factions within Yemeni society, ANHRI noted.

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