February 20, 2001 His Excellency President Ali Abdullah Saleh
C/o His Excellency Ambassador Abdul Wahab al-Hajjri
Embassy of the Republic of Yemen
2600 Virginia Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037
Via facsimile: 202-337-2017 Your Excellency:
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is writing to protest the recent suspension of the weekly newspaper Al-Shumou.
CPJ has learned that the Ministry of Information issued an order for the indefinite closure of the newspaper on February 3. Seif al-Hadheri, Al-Shumou's editor-in-chief, told CPJ that the ministry provided no explanation for its action and that officials have refused to discuss the matter with him. He surmised that the closure came in response to Al-Shumou's various "criticisms of government ministers."
Mahboob Ali, head of the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, said that Ministry of Information officials informed him that the paper was suspended for allegedly failing to comply with licensing procedures.
Yemeni journalists and government officials have often criticized the paper as "unprofessional" in its news coverage. Such complaints do not justify censorship, which violates international norms for freedom of expression.
As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide, CPJ urges Your Excellency to ensure that the Information Ministry's order is rescinded immediately and that Al-Shumou is allowed to resume publishing without further interference from authorities. Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We await your reply.