A Sana'a court fined the opposition weekly Al-Thawry one million Yemeni riyals ($5,500) for defaming two government officials. The newspaper already faced 13 defamation charges for criticizing the authorities and risked being closed down if convicted on any one of them.
The court banned Al-Thawry journalists Fikri Qassim and Salahaddin al-Dakkak from writing for six months. The sentence was suspended but could be implemented if the journalists were convicted of a future offense. The court ordered the paper to print an apology in three successive issues to the two officials. A columnist for the paper, Mohamed al-Maqaleh, faced legal action for an opinion article he wrote calling on Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to give up some of his powers. His case was referred to the Sana'a appeals court on November 26. Al-Maqaleh faced up to one year in prison and a ban on practicing his profession.
NOVEMBER 26, 2005
POSTED: December 2, 2005 Al-Tajammu
Abdulrahman Abdullah Ibrahim, Al-Tajammu
Adulraman Saeed, Al-Tajammu
LEGAL ACTION, CENSORED
A court in the capital Sana'a closed the opposition weekly Al-Tajammu for six months. It barred editor-in-chief, Abdulrahman Abdullah Ibrahim, and journalist Adulraman Saeed, from practicing journalism for one year, and fined them 50,000 Yemeni riyals ($275) each. The court said an article by Saeed in September 2004 about political violence in 1968 incited ethnic conflict and threatened national security. The judge said the article also insulted Islam, Al-Tajammu's lawyer Jamal Jaabi told CPJ.
The legal actions come amid a broader government crackdown on the media. Several journalists have been assaulted in a disturbing series of attacks on the press by security forces and suspected government agents documented by CPJ over the past five months. The government is considering adopting press legislation that would increase content bans and other bureaucratic measures that could be used to restrict the press.