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RSF urges French foreign minister to press Yemeni counterpart to free journalist

(RSF/IFEX) - 8 February 2011 - As Yemeni foreign minister Abu Bakr Al Qirbi is visiting Paris today, Reporters Without Borders has written to French foreign minister Michèle Alliot-Marie about Abdul Ilah Haydar Shae, a Yemeni journalist who was sentenced to five years in prison on 18 January. Although President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced his release in a decree on 1 February, he continues to be detained unjustly.

Ms. Michèle Alliot-Marie
Minister of Foreign and European Affairs
37 Quai d'Orsay
75007 Paris

Paris, 8 February 2011

Dear Minister,

In view of today's visit to Paris by your Yemeni counterpart, Dr. Abu Bakr Al Qirbi, Reporters Without Borders would like to draw your attention to the plight of Yemeni journalist Abdul Ilah Haydar Shae.

A specialist in Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Mr. Shae was arrested on 16 August 2010 and was sentenced by a Sanaa court for terrorism cases on 18 January 2011 to five years in prison followed by two years of house arrest. President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced his release in a decree issued on 1 February, but he continues to be detained.

Despite the publication of this decree, Mr. Shae's family has still not been notified of the date of his release. Reporters Without Borders points out that he has been kept in solitary confinement ever since his arrest on 16 August 2010. His lawyers say he has been subjected to torture and mistreatment.

The presidential decree's publication less than two weeks after Mr. Shae's conviction shows that the Yemeni authorities used the fight against terrorism as a pretext for punishing a journalist who is well known as an expert on matters relating to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The overall press freedom situation has been deteriorating steadily since May 2009. Many journalists have been arrested in an arbitrary manner. A special court has been set up. Independent publications are often censored for allegedly inciting separatism.

We would be very grateful if you would raise Mr. Shae's case with Dr. Al Qirbi during his visit to Paris.

We thank you for the attention you give to this request.

Sincerely,

Jean-François Julliard
Secretary-General

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