Anti-government protesters Monday in Sana'a. (Reuters)
Anti-government protesters Monday in Sana'a. (Reuters)

Summoned by Yemeni authorities, journalist is now missing

New York, April 18, 2011– The Committee to Protect journalists called on Yemeni authorities to clarify the whereabouts of reporter Ahmad al-Mohamadi, who has been missing since being called for questioning Saturday by the Republican Guards.

Also in Yemen, at least five journalists were assaulted while covering anti-government protests across the country.  In Iraq, two local journalists were wounded while covering clashes between security forces and protesters in Sulaimaniya.

Al-Mohamadi, a reporter for the privately owned news channel Suhail, with ties to the opposition party Al-Islah, and a contributor to independent weekly Al-Nass, received a phone call on Saturday evening from the office of the Republican Guards in the capital Sana’a, summoning him to appear for questioning, according to local news reports and a CPJ interview. Since then, his cell phone has been switched off, and his family has not heard from him, his brother Abdullah al-Mohamadi told CPJ. The journalist had already been contacted Thursday by two officers of the Republican Guards who asked him to resign his position at the news station and work as an informant, his brother said. Al-Mohamadi declined.

“Ahmad al-Mohamadi disappeared after being summoned by the Republican Guards on Saturday,” said Robert Mahoney, CPJ’s deputy director. “We hold the Yemeni government responsible for his safety and call on them to explain his whereabouts.”

On Saturday, security forces beat four freelance journalists, who write for independent weekly Al-Nidaa and state-owned daily Al-Thawra, among other local publications, news reports said.  Jamila Ali al-Raja, Hoda Attas, Arwa Abu Othman, and Widad al-Badawi were assaulted while covering a protest denouncing President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s statement that women should not take part in protest rallies. All four had their phones and cameras confiscated and were forced to leave the scene, according to the same reports. The Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate condemned the attack.

On Friday, Hamood al-Hasimi, a reporter with independent daily Al-Oula was beaten by a group of unidentified men while covering anti-government protests in Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city, al-Hashimi told CPJ. Shortly before the attack, he received an anonymous phone call asking him to stop his coverage and to leave the scene immediately, al-Hashimi added.

Also on Friday, security forces seized a shipment of copies of the independent dailies Akhbar Al-Yawm, Al-Oula and Al-Shari at a checkpoint in the Southern governorate of Al-Hudaydah, the Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate said. The driver of the shipment was beaten.

“We call on Yemeni authorities to bring to an immediate end all forms of violence against the media, and lift censorship,” CPJ’s Mahoney said.

Elsewhere in the region:

In Iraqi Kurdistan, two journalists were injured while covering clashes between protesters and security forces in Iraq’s northern city of Sulaimaniya, according to news reports. Chunour Mohammed was shot in the hand while trying to take a photo of a wounded protester, Rahim Gharib of Metro Center, a local press freedom group, told CPJ. The other journalist’s identity was unknown.

In Libya, authorities Thursday released Rana Akbani, a reporter for the arts and culture section of the Libyan daily Al-Shams, local journalists told CPJ. Akbani, a Syrian national, was detained March 28 for “conspiring with the enemy during war.”

In Syria, Amer Matar, a contributor to the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, was released from custody Friday, local journalists told CPJ. Matar was detained without charges on April 1.