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Dutch journalist abducted in Yemen

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called for the immediate release of Dutch journalist Judith Spiegel and her husband who were abducted in Yemen over three weeks ago.

According to international media reports, Judith and her husband, Boudewijn Berendsen, were mysteriously kidnapped from their house in the Haddah area of Yemen's capital city Sana'a around the beginning of the second week of June by a group of gunmen.

It is believed that Judith, who works for the international Dutch Radio and is a professor at the Lebanese University in Sana'a, and her husband may have been abducted by an armed group in order to extract a ransom or potentially exert political pressure on the Yemeni government.

“We strongly condemn the kidnapping of Dutch journalist Judith Spiegel and we call on security agencies in Yemen to step up their efforts to ensure her release and to put an end to the ongoing kidnapping of journalists there,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha.

IFJ affiliate, the Yemeni Journalist Syndicate (YJS), has strongly condemned the kidnapping, saying that local groups are using the practice of kidnapping journalists as a “bargaining chip with the state.” The union has called on Yemeni security forces to ensure the couple are released.

“The terrifying kidnapping of Judith Spiegel and other journalists in Yemen are direct violations of human rights and media freedom,” said IFJ General Secretary Beth Costa. “Local authorities and security agencies in the area must protect foreign journalists there and bring the perpetrators of such terrible acts to swift justice.”

The last kidnapping incident took place on 15 May when gunmen kidnapped five Yemeni journalists working for different media in the southern Yemeni city of Marib, asking the government for a ransom to release them. The journalists spent 10 days as hostages and were released after negotiation with the kidnappers.

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