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IFJ calls for release of two journalists held in military detention

(IFJ/IFEX) - 09 November 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the Yemeni authorities for their continuous detention of two Yemeni journalists who have been held in military detention since 16 August 2010. They face terrorism related charges including contacting terrorists, providing logistical support for terrorism and conspiring to overthrow the government. Their case is being heard at the Specialised State Court that deals with terrorism.

Abdelelaah Shaie, a reporter working for the official Yemeni News Agency (SABA), and Kmal Sharaf, a cartoonist at the state-owned newspaper "al-Gomhoriah", appeared again before the court today where they challenged its jurisdiction over journalism matters.

"It is outrageous that the Yemeni authorities continue to accuse professional journalists of being terrorists," said Monir Zaarour, IFJ Middle East and Arab World Coordinator, who attended the hearing. "Our colleagues are courageous journalists working in a very difficult situation and it is unacceptable to deny them their constitutional right to a fair trial."

Leaders of the Yemeni Journalists' Syndicate (YJS), an IFJ affiliate, were also present at the trial and condemned the trial, calling for all charges against the journalists to be dismissed.

Abdelelaah Shaie's detention followed his initial arrest a month earlier when he was questioned for several hours by the Yemeni Political Security on issues related to his work as a specialist reporter on terrorism and terrorist groups in the country.

"Journalists have the right to report on current issues of public interest including terrorism," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "This in no way suggests any association of the reporters with topics they cover. They must be set free immediately."

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