New York, February 15, 2012–The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about the health of imprisoned Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Hider Shaea who has waged a hunger strike since Sunday to protest his continued detention.
Shaea, a freelance journalist, has been imprisoned since August 2010 on antistate charges. His brother, who visited him on Tuesday, told the Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate that the journalist had reported kidney pain.
Shaea, a frequent commentator on Al-Jazeera, was known for his criticism of Yemen’s counterterrorism policies and often reported on extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda. He conducted several interviews with senior Al-Qaeda members, including the U.S.-born Anwar Awlaki, who was killed in a U.S. drone attack in September 2011, according to CPJ research.
“We are concerned about the health of Abdulelah Hider Shaea and hold the Yemeni authorities directly responsible for his well-being,” said Robert Mahoney, CPJ’s deputy director. “We urge officials to release him immediately and respect freedom of the press.”
On Tuesday, more than 140 journalists and activists signed a petition calling for Shaea’s release, according to news reports. The Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate has also planned a mass protest on Sunday in front of the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Sana’a, to call for his release, news reports said.
The journalist is serving a five-year prison term on charges of aiding Al-Qaeda, CPJ research shows. In February 2011, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh pardoned him, but after U.S. President Barack Obama expressed concern over his release, the pardon was reversed and Shaea remained imprisoned, news reports said.