New York, February 9, 2012–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Yemeni authorities to end an ongoing siege at the offices of a daily newspaper and ensure the protection of journalists and their equipment. Armed men last week surrounded the offices of two Yemeni newspapers, one of which remains under attack, according to news reports.
On February 2, the Sana’a office of the state-run daily Al-Thawra was surrounded by hundreds of armed men loyal to outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh and backed by security officials, news outlets reported. The men, including pro-regime journalists, were angered by the paper’s decision to publish without Saleh’s picture on the front page — a first in decades — the day before. They encircled the building and forced the paper to print an issue with Saleh’s image on Friday, according to the reports. Al-Thawra‘s office and staff remain surrounded, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate and several local news outlets reported. The newspaper has not published since Friday.
“The government needs to direct security forces to end the siege of Al-Thawra‘s offices immediately,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “The paper’s journalists must be allowed to resume their work without fearing for their lives.”
A similar attack occurred at the state-run daily Al-Gomhoriah in Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city. The newspaper’s office was surrounded by a group of armed men loyal to Saleh on Friday and Saturday. The group prevented the paper from printing, claiming that it had turned into a mouthpiece of the opposition and was not accurately depicting news about Saleh, according to news reports. The newspaper resumed printing on Sunday with an image of Saleh on the front page, news reports said.
CPJ has documented a stream of attacks against journalists in Yemen since political unrest erupted last year, including deaths, physical assaults, detentions, harassments, and attacks on news outlets.