Journalist forcibly detained in Yemen twice this summer

New York, August 17, 2010–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Yemeni authorities to release Abdulelah Hider Shaea, a Yemeni journalist who covers Islamist groups including Al-Qaeda. Armed security forces arrested Shaea on Monday after raiding his family home, according to news reports.

Shaea is a freelance journalist and a frequent commentator and contributor to Al-Jazeera. He is known for his exclusive interviews with Al-Qaeda leaders and his analysis on Islamist groups. 

When Shaea was arrested at his house,most of the soldiers stayed outside,” but “around 15-20 soldiers stormed the house,” his brother Khaled, who was present, told Al-Masdar Online, the Web-based edition of the popular independent weekly Al-Masdar, According to his brother, the journalist asked the soldiers to show a court order for his arrest. He said they replied that they were “following the orders of national security apparatus,” and that they said they had an order but did not show it.

His bother added that Shaea was taken by force. After the arrest, officers searched the house and confiscated his notes and laptop. The Yemen Journalists’ Syndicate condemned the arrest in a statement released today.

“We call on the authorities to immediately release Abdulelah Hider Shaea,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “The Yemeni government is acting without regard for the law. This is a flagrant violation of the most basic norms of due process. It a state kidnapping.”

This is the second time Shaea has been detained forcibly this summer. On July 11, he was abducted by unidentified men. After being blindfolded and led to a basement in an unknown location, he was interrogated for several hours about his friends and his reporting on Al-Qaeda, Shaea told CPJ just hours after his release.

Only days before his first abduction, Shaea told CPJ: “In Yemen, you conceal your identity as a journalist. Your journalism ID is a liability, not an asset. It turns you into a target.”

After his release, Shaea was not able to identify the specific agency that had abducted him, but said that the abductors referred to themselves simply as “security.” He told Al-Masdar Online later in July that he was receiving threats via phone from security officers demanding that he stops contributing to media outlets without consulting them because “it harms the reputation of the country.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This news alert has been modified to reflect that Abdulelah Hider Shaea worked as a freelance journalist and not as a reporter for Saba News Agency.