Yemeni journalists continue to be targeted

New York, September 7, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists is disturbed by Monday’s attack on two Yemeni journalists by a group of armed men. Reports of other attacks on journalists point to a worsening situation for press freedom in the country.

Abdul al-Hafeez al-Hatami, correspondent for the news website Al-Sahwa Net, and Raafat al-Amiri, cameraman for Suhail TV, the opposition pro-revolution news station, were covering the rising oil prices in the Al-Duha district in the western province of Hobeidah when they were attacked by a group of armed men, Al-Sahwa Net reported. The assailants confiscated the journalists’ camera and returned it only after a local tribe intervened and negotiated with the attackers.

On August 28, BBC reporter Abdullah Ghorab and cameraman Zein al-Saqaaf were attacked by five armed thugs while they were covering a protest against oil and electricity outages in Sana’a, the news website News Yemen reported. The group of men interrogated the reporters on what they were filming and why they were there and then beat them and destroyed their camera, Ghorab told News Yemen.

“These attacks underscore how dangerous it is for journalists in Yemen,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “We call on all sides to respect journalists and allow them to continue their work unharmed and without threat. Journalists are civilians and must be treated as such.”

Both Al-Sahwa Net and Suhail TV have been the targets of previous attacks. In December 2009, Al-Sahwa Net journalist Khaled al-Jahafi was arrested and held without charge for photographing the clashes between security forces and separatists in southern Yemen. He was later allegedly beaten by police officers. On August 12, Ahmed Firas, a cameraman for Suhail TV, was arrested by government forces and his equipment was confiscated, CPJ reported. Firas is still in government custody and has not been charged. In May, government forces attacked the Suhail TV office, destroying computers, cameras, and the station’s archives. Multiple Suhail TV staff members have received death threats, local journalists told CPJ.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This alert has been modified to reflect the correct spelling of Abdullah Ghorab’s name.