CPJ urges Yemen to free two fixers

August 22, 2008

His Excellency Minister of Interior Motahar Rashad Al-Masri
c/o His Excellency Ambassador Abdulwahab A. al-Hajjri
Embassy of the Republic of Yemen
2319 Wyoming Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20008

Via facsimile 202-337-2017

Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists is writing to express deep concern about the ongoing detention without charge of two Yemeni fixers working for a European journalist.

On July 21, Ali Nasser Gaid al-Bokhaiti and Mohammed Ahmed Hassan al-Bokhaiti were detained along with Willem Marx, a reporter with the U.S.-based television network HDNet, on the outskirts of the capital, Sana’a, as they were en route to the ancient town of Marib. Police took the three to political security headquarters in Sana’a, Marx told CPJ.

Marx was interrogated about his trip and his work and then forced to board a plane to Qatar without explanation that same day. There has not been any news from Ali and Mohammed al-Bokhaiti since, according to family members.

Marx had legally entered Yemen on July 15 and obtained permission from the Ministry of Information to film in the country on July 18, the journalist told CPJ. Both Ali and Mohammed al-Bokhaiti had been registered with the Ministry of Tourism as Marx’s official guides in Yemen on July 20, Marx said. The journalist had planned to travel via Marib to the northwest province of Saada, where the Yemeni government has battled rebels for several years.

CPJ is troubled by Marx’s deportation in the course of his professional work and alarmed by the unexplained, open-ended detention of the two men who were assisting him in doing his job. Such interference flouts basic global standards for a free press and the free flow of information. We call on you to ensure that Ali Nasser Gaid al-Bokhaiti and Mohammed Ahmed Hassan al-Bokhaiti are released immediately.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We look forward to your reply.

Joel Simon
Executive Director